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ALBA Continues Strengthening Regional Integration

The 11th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) took place last Saturday in Caracas to advance the organization’s regional integration initiatives, particularly through the creation of an “economic zone” to improve its exchange currency, the Sucre, as well as other issues.

During the meeting, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced that the ALBA Bank will receive contributions of 1 percent of international reserves by each of the eight member states. He said that, in the case of Venezuela, this represents $300 million, an amount that will be used to create a common fund for the organization, paving the way for greater financial independence for the region.

The Venezuelan president also highlighted the importance of the Orinoco Oil Belt, which he called the “principal engine of Venezuela’s integral development and cooperation with the economic independence of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas [ALBA] and Latin America.”

Chávez announced “there is oil for 200 years” in the Orinoco Oil Belt, and that Venezuela is expected to increase oil production this year from 3 to 3.5 million barrels per day, making the country better able to meet commitments under ALBA and other programs.

Haitian President Michel Martelly participated in the summit as an observer and analyzed the possibility of formally integrating his country into the group, which was created in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela.

The Venezuelan president also mentioned formal requests to join ALBA by Suriname and Saint Lucia, whose heads of state arrived in Caracas on Sunday, the last day of the summit.

Declaration to Honor the Cuban Five Approved

During the summit, the eight heads of state and government approved a special declaration to honor the Cuban Five, a group of men arrested 13 years ago by the U.S. government for fighting terrorism.

The declaration demands freedom for Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, as an act of social and humanitarian justice. It also rejects their politically-motivated sentences, which were made amid judicial irregularities.

The Cuban Five were monitoring anti-Cuban terrorist organizations in U.S. territory, including those linked to terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

In attendance at the ALBA summit were the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela, as well as the prime ministers of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Correo del Orinoco / Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / February 6, 2012

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