HAVANA – The countries banded together as the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) commemorated on Friday in Havana the 14th year of a bloc that faces one of its most complex moments, with the region’s right wing on the rise and the United States openly hostile.
The 16th ALBA Summit of Heads of State and Government brought together in Cuba Presidents Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and more, who together with their Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel made a call for unity against the upsurge of conservatism and interference from Washington.
In this new regional political cycle, ALBA has lost what had become one of its main defenders, Ecuador – President Lenin Moreno withdrew his country last August in response to the Venezuelan migratory crisis – while Santa Lucia failed to send anyone to the Havana summit, which was understood as moving away from the alliance.
Venezuela is going through a social, economic and political crisis intensified by US sanctions, while Nicaragua has had months of instability with anti-government protests that left between 325 and 545 dead, according to humanitarian organizations.
Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, whose governments were recently dubbed by Washington as “the troika of tyranny,” received Friday the solidarity of their ALBA partners, since they were seen as the main targets of US anger.
For the host, President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who for the first time as Cuba’s chief executive attended a meeting on cooperation mechanisms, those US strategies represent the principal “dangers to peace in the region,” which is why ALBA unity is so “highly prized.”
“We can’t be ingenuous and silently accept the attempted coups against our brother countries. Nor is it possible to underestimate the immense resources our historic adversaries are rolling out to overthrow governments, impose chaos and bring down democratically elected authorities,” the Cuban president said.
According to Bolivian President Evo Morales, it is necessary to strengthen alliances like ALBA to stop the “imperialist attacks” of the “growing right wing” in Latin America.
“We have to keep ALBA strong,” Morales said, while warning that not only ALBA but also the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) “are being attacked by the empire.”
With the right so powerful in two of the region’s largest economies, Brazil and Argentina – which had been allies of the left though they didn’t belong to the Bolivarian Alliance – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for financial integration as the “foundation of independence” against the neocolonial and imperialist attacks in this “disputed region.”