The G20 People’s Summit series of discussions got underway in the West End with three events opening up the debate for an alternative to the economic and development models proposed by the G20 Leaders Summit.
At 199 Boundary Road, one of the six venues of the G20 People’s Summit, Eulalia Reyes-Whitey and Margaret Gleeson got proceedings under way with an informative look at the trading model being employed in Latin America and Caribbean under the auspices of ALBA.
ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of America, was initially proposed by Venezuela charismatic and radical president Hugo Chavez in 2004, and backed by Cuba leader Fidel Castro, to counter the model of development favoured by the US and the neo-liberal school of economics.
Since its inception nine progressive Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, Antigua & Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, devised and are implementing an alternative development model that favours fair trade as opposed to free trade; cooperation as opposed to competition; and social solidarity instead of exploitation.
If those seem to be lofty and grandiose ideals, an interesting set of figures challenges opposition to an economic system of development that favours isolation to regional integration.
According the statistics presented during the G20 Peoples’ Summit discussion by Eulalia and Margaret significantly tangible impacts can be measured in the member countries of ALBA, especially in the areas of women’s health, infant mortality, education and environmental protection.
It is also in the area of regional solidarity that substantial gains are being achieved. For example, Venezuela, as an oil producing country, guarantees cheaper fuels to its regional neighbours, whether they are members of ALBA or not; Cuba receives oil from Venezuela in exchange for doctors and highly trained health workers; and vaccines produced in ALBA member countries are distributed free to the region, impacting on the overall improvement of health and wellbeing.
ALBA aims to achieve justice, solidarity, cooperation and complimentarity with an approach reflected in a set of principles that guarantees commerce and investment do not merely become ends in themselves, but rather means to reach equitable and sustainable development, with a greater emphasis on local cultures and identities.
ALBA poses a challenge to the hegemony of the United States that has made the US brokered NAFTA and other free trade blocs unmanageable. In many ways the attempts to create a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a direct response by imperialism to the challenges posed by the ALBA integration model. The progressive, and even some less progressive, governments of Latin America and Caribbean are clearly showing in practical terms that “Another World is Possible”.