Cuban Foreign Minister Stresses Importance of Non-Aligned Movement in Venezuela

Bruno Rodríguez will participate today and tomorrow in the political debate “Peace, sovereignty and independence”, as part of the Meeting of Foreign Ministers, which precedes the Conference of Heads of State, scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday.

“Non-alignment has huge historic merits, but also remains fully valid,” Rodríguez stated on arriving to Margarita Island. Referring to the issues to be discussed during the multinational event he added that “We must defend independence, sovereignty and self-determination, through unity and consensus.”

“A revolutionary, anti-imperialist and solidary embrace for the Venezuelan people,” he emphasized, and wished the Bolivarian Republic well in its presidency of the Movement, which it will assume during the Summit. “Venezuela will receive the presidency and will do so successfully. It will be a victory of the Venezuelan people,” he noted.

Bruno Rodríguez will participate today and tomorrow in the political debate “Peace, sovereignty and independence”, as part of the Meeting of Foreign Ministers, which precedes the Conference of Heads of State, scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday.

The second day of the Summit saw the conclusion of the Meetings of Senior Officials, in which the document to be discussed and approved by foreign ministers and heads of state was drafted.

Venezuela was elected as coordinator of the political, economic and social commissions of the Movement, an aspect which, along with the massive participation of visiting delegates, host Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez described as recognition of the diplomacy of peace promoted by the country, contrary to right wing attempts at isolation.

“Those transnational media outlets that sought to cast a shadow over Venezuela in order that this Summit could not take place have been defeated today, with the massive presence of all the delegations of the Non-Aligned Countries,” she stressed.

Rodríguez also took to Twitter to condemn the political maneuvering of the right wing alliance of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, whose governments signed statements which once again question the legitimacy of Venezuela assuming the rotating presidency of Mercosur; in what can be considered an opportunistic attempt to discredit the Bolivarian government in the midst of the NAM Summit.

Non-Aligned Movement Says ‘No’ to New Colonialism

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would propose to transform the Non-Aligned Movement into an international organization that defiantly says “no” to new colonialism.

His remarks come as heads of state and representatives of more than 120 nations are in Venezuela’s Margarita Island for the 17th NAM Summit, in which the global body is creating agreements for the promotion and defense of world peace, one of the fundamental principles of the movement.

With the slogan “United on the Path for Peace,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez gave the inaugural speech Tuesday as her country assumes the organization’s rotating presidency for the next three years after taking over from Iran. Rodriguez also said during the summit her country will ratify the defense on the right of the people of the world to fight for peace and sovereignty.

“Emancipation, anti-imperialism and peace are the flags that define the XVII NAM Summit Venezuela 2016,” said Rodriguez.

With 120 member states, the NAM is the second largest international body after the United Nations. It has 53 members from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organizations.

The summit, which ends on Sept. 18, will have meetings scheduled in three consecutive segments: meeting of senior officials, foreign ministers meeting, and a conference of heads of state and government.

This is the fourth time that a Latin American country that hosts the summit, and Venezuela is the third country in the area to assumes the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement. Cuba took the leadership in 1979 and 2006, and Colombia did the same in 1995.


Despite Its Crises, Venezuela Assumes Another Key International Role

Venezuela’s has demonstrated leadership on key international issues, such as U.N. reform, regional integration and anti-imperialism.

By Tim Anderson

Venezuela assumed a three year presidency of the 120 nation Non Aligned Movement (NAM), at its 17th summit on the island of Margarita, this week. That role in the NAM underscores Venezuela’s ongoing leadership on key international issues, such as U.N. reform, regional integration and anti-imperialism, despite the country’s constitutional and economic crises.

Venezuela’s economic turmoil in recent years, due to corporate sabotage, destabilisation and government mismanagement, has led to serious shortages and inflation. Those problems led to disillusionment and the opposition taking control of the National Assembly last year, with 56 percent of the vote. On the other hand President Nicolas Maduro – senior minister under the late President Hugo Chavez – won the Presidency in 2013 with 50.6 percent of the vote.

That political gap between executive and legislative arms, the first since the 1999 constitution, is being tested this year. The Democratic Unity Table (MUD) Opposition is trying to use the recall provision of that constitution to ‘de-elect’ President Maduro. If this recall vote were carried out before January 2017, there would be a new presidential election. That is the chance the U.S.-backed opposition wants. However if the vote is held after January 2017, even if Maduro lost, his Vice President would take over until the end of Maduro’s term in 2019.

At stake are large gains made for ordinary people under the Chavez and Maduro governments. Social programs, using up to 60 percent of government budgets, led to a reduction of households in extreme poverty from 10.8 percent in 1998 to 4.9 percent in 2015. More than a million new homes have helped 15 percent of the population out of slum dwellings and homelessness. Mass free education and health have transformed entire communities. Others have drawn attention to wider social development and active citizenship. Participation in Venezuelan democracy is at its highest level in many decades.

Many of these achievements would be at risk if the opposition took the presidency. Although MUD leaders have promised to maintain the popular social missions, their method would rapidly starve and privatise them, as in Brazil after the ‘soft coup’, where there is now a comprehensive privatisation strategy.

MUD leaders have also used political violence for some years. That has been backed by Washington which, in turn, has used that violence as an excuse to impose economic sanctions on Venezuelan leaders. Former Vice President Elias Jaua recently accused MUD leader and National Assembly President Ramos Allup of inciting political violence. An armed rebellion involving MUD members was put down earlier this month.

At this week’s NAM summit Cuba foreshadowed a motion to denounce unconventional warfare. This is aimed at the proxy armies used throughout Latin America for decades and, in recent years, the Middle East. Since 2001 the United States, through invasions and proxy armies, has waged war on the more independent countries of that region: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. Those countries are all represented at the NAM summit.

Cuba remains under a U.S. economic blockade which, despite recent diplomatic easing with the Obama administration, is more intense than when it began 55 years ago. The United States maintains some form of unilateral sanctions and destabilisation practice against 25 other countries, including Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon.

India, a founding and key member of the NAM, backs the push to re-found the United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, dominated as it is by the former colonial powers. In that the NAM has the support of Russia and China, both Security Council members.

After the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 Venezuela became an important voice for Latin American unity and the independence of small nations and former colonies. That voice remains important. On the NAM agenda are strategies against terrorism (mostly instigated by Washington), destabilisation, unilateral sanctions and sabotage, issues Latin Americans have lived with for many decades.

A world debate on a small island

Margarita, the largest of the three islands that constitute a Venezuela state, welcomed members and observers to the Non-Aligned Movement’s 17th Summit

Dilbert Reyes Rodríguez |

ISLA DE MARGARITA, Venezuela.— Nueva Esparta, the country’s island doorway to the Caribbean, an archipelago and one of the nation’s states, served as a kind of world capital this week.

Margarita, the largest of the three islands that constitute the state, welcomed members and observers of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to the organization’s 17th Summit, and given the presence of many heads of state, the meeting assumed the nature of an international council.

It has always occurred this way, even when those present, their interests, the number in attendance didn’t have anything to do with agreement among the 120 nations and 15 observers currently members of NAM – or much less with the interests of the people who want to see a reflection of high level discussions held by other select clubs on their tables, in their pockets, in elemental rights within their daily lives.

Contrary to the foundational principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, economic and military powers have called other summit meetings that attract the world’s attention to miniscule groups such as the G8, the G20, and make these small alliances as explosive as a nuclear reaction.

During these gatherings, the site becomes the capital of the world, since the mass communications media put up tents, highlight their issues, promote their agendas, and shine all spotlights on their subject of debate, no matter if they’re discussing military advantages, or cracks debilitating the hegemony of their economies.

The climate and terms used in Non-Aligned Movement Summits are at least distinct. There is a kind of respect for, loyalty to, the organization’s original purpose, generated in 1955, in Bandung, Indonesia, with the idea shared by three leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru (India), Gamal Abdel Nasser (Egypt) and Sukarno (Indonesia), to create an organization of nations committed to not aligning themselves with either one of the two sides in the Cold War, the geopolitical conflict between Soviet and U.S. blocs.

Although this indirect confrontation ended with the collapse of the socialist camp, and the NAM practically disappeared without its fundamental reason for being, the organization has since grown considerably, having established a record in defense of international causes such as the right to self-determination; condemnation of apartheid in South Africa and racial segregation; disarmament; rejection of multilateral military pacts; strengthening the UN; the struggle against imperialism; non-interference in domestic affairs of nations; and the democratization of international political and socio-economic relations.

The joint, majority-approved positions taken by members in support of these issues have brought these nations together and guaranteed the NAM’s survival, beyond the crises provoked at various times, like the dismantling of the USSR and armed conflicts among some of its former member states.

Clearly, the Movement has come to understand that its action can not be limited to insisting on passive neutrality, that it must participate in a political activism which is able, to some degree, to promote peaceful international relations.

This was conceived within the foundational precepts developed in Bandung and later in membership requirements established in the lead-up to the first summit held in Belgrade, September 1-6, 1961, where the NAM was officially constituted, and the policy of non-alignment began to gain significant momentum.

Participating in this first event were 28 countries, 25 of which were full members, plus three observers. Noteworthy was the active involvement of newly independent countries, including Cuba, which was the only Latin American nation to join at that time.

After Belgrade, a period of development began, which took important steps forward in the next two years, including the founding of the precursor of today’s African Union, composed of 31 independent nations on that continent. The progressive adherence of new member states brought the total to 47 by October, 1964, when the 2nd Summit was held in Cairo, with 10 additional observers and the novel participation of 30 national liberation movements from countries still struggling against colonial regimes.

Peaceful coexistence was established here as a key NAM concept, codified within the organization’s principles, and from then on, peace became the fundamental subject of its positions and debates.

In Egypt, for example, a program for peace and international collaboration was drafted. In the following gathering in Lusaka (Zambia), held in 1970, given the armed conflicts unfolding in member countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and several in the Middle East, two proclamations were issued entitled “Declaration on peace, independence, development, cooperation, and democratization of international relations.”

This document, in addition to reaffirming the organization’s positions against colonialism, racism, and military alliances, emphasized diplomacy as the only solution to conflict, and promoted the aspirations of NAM member countries to achieve economic independence and cooperation under conditions of equality.

NAM’s growth was consolidated in Algiers, where the 4th Summit was held in September of 1973, with 75 members, seven observers, three invitees, and 12 representatives from national liberation movements in attendance. The traditional positions supporting peace and opposing colonialism were reiterated, but emphasis was placed on economic conditions existent in member countries and a critical analysis of imperialism, with a call made for cooperation among NAM nations themselves.

The perspective of developing countries marked discussions during the Colombo summit, in Sri Lanka, with 86 members, 10 observers, and seven guests attending this 5th gathering. A Program of Economic Action and seven resolutions set a more practical tone, while the approved Political Declaration noted the easing of international tensions, although criticism of imperialism, racism, neocolonialism, and intervention was reiterated.

In 1979, with Havana as the site, the NAM Summit came to Latin America for the first time. New participants increased full membership to 96 countries, with nine observers, 10 guests, and other representatives from national liberation movements in attendance. The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, inaugurated and closed the sessions with several speeches which masterfully summarized the essential objectives of the organization.

This period of expansion entered a decline shortly thereafter with the outbreak of conflicts between member countries, such as that between Iran and Iraq, requiring a change in the site scheduled for the summit, from Baghdad to India’s capital. At this gathering the New Delhi Message was issued, critically dissecting the new period of tensions, calling for efforts to overcome these, and urgently advocating the concept of peaceful coexistence, central among NAM’s founding principles.

This line of thinking continued to be promoted in the following summit in Harare (Zimbabwe) in 1986, during which Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro set the tone and important world leaders saluted the organization’s 25th anniversary.

The following years meant a radical turn for the Movement. With its foundational reason for being gone, as the European socialist bloc was dismantled and the Cold War supposedly ended, developing countries had reached sufficient maturity to understand that the organization could be a pillar of resistance to the unilateralism and globalization predominating in the new relationship of forces.

The problems of the so-called Third World were growing worse, and NAM continued to be a mechanism through which these countries could defend their interests, although the conjuncture obliged the organization to forego a good portion of the criteria on which it was founded.

From Jakarta in 1992, to Cartagena de Indias in 1995, Durban in 1998, Kuala Lumpur in 2003, again in Havana in 2006, Egypt in 2009, and Teheran in 2012, NAM continued as a stalwart defender of the positions of developing countries, addressing issues such as the increased authority of the UN and the need to reform and democratize the Security Council, with the elimination of veto power; non-intervention in the internal affairs of countries; the solution of conflicts without war; attention to the growing influence of terrorism; and the defense of political independence and sovereignty of nations as principles.

During this year’s event in Venezuela, new problems emerged in the debates. Peace, the Movement’s essential issue, has seen interesting practical progress in Latin America, such as in the case of Colombia, which can serve as a reference for similar efforts at other latitudes. Terrorism, on the other hand, extends conflict, and although a real and present danger, it serves as a pretext for military interventions which allow for the control of valuable resources like oil.

For the fourth occasion on the Latin American continent, the event is ideal for putting the offensive against legitimate progressive governments on the table, as these are facing underhanded attempts to remove them from power and undo the social gains achieved.

Venezuela is acting as the host precisely at a time when the world believes the country is immersed in chaos, as a result of the portrayal disseminated by the corporate press. The nation whose people are resisting the blows of an economic boycott and the political conspiracies of an oligarchy supported by foreign interests, now has the opportunity to show things as they are, supported by an international policy redesigned by Comandante Hugo Chávez and implemented today by President Nicolás Maduro, who is facing an avalanche of lies and attacks which he has rebutted in this essential forum that is the NAM Summit.

With the hosting of 17th Summit Conference, Venezuela has been named president of the Non-Aligned Movement, and its government will assume a third leadership position in a multilateral body, along with the presidency of Unasur and Mercosur, to reaffirm its rightful role in the region despite the shady operations and conspiracies.

On the beautiful beaches of the small island of Margarita, Venezuela’s gateway to the Caribbean, a world debate has landed, which, as has been the case in previous summits, is allowing the firm, strong positions of a group of nations to be established, a group of nations which choose unity over conflict, and peace over military alliances.