The 21st meeting of the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas-Trade Treaty of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) got off to a strong start in the region on March 1, with the participation of foreign ministers representing the member countries, accompanied by the Executive Secretary of that multilateral body, Sacha Llorenti, and the president of the ALBA Bank, Raúl Licausi, among other authorities present.
The meeting was opened by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, who explained the current situation in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, one year after the disease was introduced in these territories of Latin America and the Caribbean. He spoke of the importance of ALBA’s reactivation, especially in the health sector, with the creation of the Vaccine Bank, which will soon bring a shipment of anti-Covid doses to the Commonwealth of Dominica from China, as well as the Henry Reeve Cuban Medical Brigade, which has become a solidary and human aid not only for our continent but for the whole world, and which has particularly provided assistance and support in the deployment of health and security protocols to the countries of the Alliance, saving lives.
Arreaza also assessed the economic effects that the closing of borders due to the coronavirus has had on imports for production and consumption, on food, tourism, transportation, supplies, on the challenge for education, which has adapted and created formulas to protect life, with different modalities and sometimes limited technologies. Therefore, since December, different sectors have been reactivated in ALBA: health, education, agriculture, economic complementation council to continue with the work promoted from this instance, different meetings of these committees have been held to review and address the difficulties, share ideas and coordinate actions, as well as create future work plans that can strengthen this system of complementarity.
Countries such as Cuba and Venezuela have not been the only ones affected by the blockade that has generated a strong economic crisis, the attack is a direct assault since they constitute a fundamental pillar for the advancement of inclusive policies for the sister Caribbean islands, historically battered and mistreated by the dependence generated by colonialist countries and which, with organizations such as ALBA and Petrocaribe, relieve their economies and allow them to carry out a more equitable distribution in terms of social plans in their territories.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), on the occasion of the XXI Meeting of the Political Council, held in virtual format on March 01, 2021:
1. We ratify our commitment to a genuine Latin American and Caribbean integration, which will allow us to face together the imperialist domination and the growing threats to regional peace and stability, to multilateralism and to the principles of International Law; including respect for the self-determination of peoples, sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of States; as well as the prohibition of the use and threat of use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes, as endorsed in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
2. We denounce the policies of war and domination of Western countries, in particular the United States of America, which even in times of profound world crisis caused by the pandemic of COVID 19, do not cease in their attempts to subdue sovereign States, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic. We recall, in this regard, the call of the Secretary General of the United Nations for an “immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world”.
3. We demand the immediate lifting of the unilateral coercive measures applied by the U.S., which impose obstacles to the countries affected in the confrontation with COVID-19, especially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Nicaragua.
4. We reiterate the call made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Ms. Alena Douhan, for the United States, the European Union and other States to lift the unilateral coercive measures imposed on the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
5. We urge the immediate and unconditional cessation of the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba and demand an end to the possibility of filing lawsuits in U.S. courts under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.
6. We reiterate ALBA-TCP’s strong condemnation of all terrorist acts, methods and practices in all their forms and manifestations, including those cases in which States are directly or indirectly involved; which is unjustifiable whatever the motivations, considerations or factors invoked.
7. We condemn in firm and absolute terms the classification of Cuba as a country sponsoring terrorism by the government of the United States and the inclusion in the spurious list of the Department of State of that country.
8. We express our deep sorrow for the mortal victims that the pandemic has caused in the world and in particular in our region. In the face of the devastating impacts of the multiple crises generated by COVID-19, a coordinated and joint response is needed to ensure the inclusive and resilient recovery of our economies, which will allow us to strengthen the sustainable development of our peoples, as well as the eradication of poverty.
9. We recognize that all peoples, particularly those of the Caribbean and the Central American isthmus, are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Several countries of the Alliance have recently been affected by severe meteorological events. For this reason, the ALBA-TCP countries commit ourselves to continue defending the importance of the recognition of “Damages and Losses” in the multilateral processes of financing for Climate Change.
10. We reaffirm that the unfair international financial system and the inclusion in lists of non-cooperative jurisdictions endanger the small economies of Caribbean countries. This situation is aggravated by the pandemic, with reports of a significant decrease in tourism, a fundamental sector for their income, and limited access to sources of international financing. We demand fair, special and differentiated treatment for them.
11. We must work together on the basis of extensive immunization against HIV/AIDS as a global public health good. An equitable and supportive distribution is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable. Our peoples have the right to access all essential, safe, effective and affordable quality health technologies and products necessary for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that barriers to such access and distribution be urgently removed, consistent with the provisions of international treaties.
12. We denounce the hoarding of vaccines against COVID-19, which the most powerful countries in the world have been carrying out.
13. We insist on the urgency of attending to the special needs of our sister Caribbean countries, which would allow them to benefit from cooperation to prevent and confront the pandemic.
14. We recognize the gigantic effort of health professionals, scientists and humanitarian personnel to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in different regions of the world, to defend the right to health and life, even at their own risk. We highlight the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the process of coordinating and combating the pandemic.
15. We recognize, in particular, the contribution of the Republic of Cuba to the response to the pandemic, despite the complex circumstances imposed by the tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States and the campaign of the government of that country to discredit and sabotage the international medical cooperation that Cuba offers in dozens of countries and territories, which has benefited millions of people.
16. We congratulate and recognize the humanistic and altruistic work of the Henry Reeve Cuban Medical Contingent and its contribution to the confrontation of the coronavirus in ALBA-TCP countries and other nations of the world. We welcome the numerous initiatives to formally register the candidacy of this Contingent for the Nobel Peace Prize 2021.
17. We congratulate the Bolivian people for the recovery of democracy, thanks to the unity and work of social organizations and the native indigenous peoples and peasants. This has resulted in important advances, mainly in the area of health, in the first 100 days of the government led by President Luis Arce Catacora and Vice President David Choquehuanca.
18. We reiterate the commitment of the ALBA-TCP member countries to address the most pressing needs and guarantee food and nutritional security for populations in vulnerable situations, stressing that food production and distribution systems are essential for sustainability and for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
19. We celebrate the agreements reached at the recent meetings of ALBA High Authorities in the areas of Health, Agriculture and Education, which revitalize our Alliance and demonstrate that only with unity is it possible to face the serious threats that affect us.
Translation by Internationalist 360°