By Rebecca Theodore
Beware! The manipulative game of bartering oil for social welfare and aid to solve the economic woes of many Latin American and Caribbean states by Venezuela’s despot Hugo Chavez lingers.
Despite original predictions of its unsustainability, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is quickly spreading throughout the region like wildfire, leaving in its wake a voice that cries out loud against reason and a political movement that tears the commercial veil of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the US asunder, being pulled and tossed in directions unknown by ideologically contrasting powers.
As games rely on the technical representation of an idea that either player can manipulate to victory, the allure for cheap oil for many Latin American and Caribbean countries now see them turning their backs on the US, choosing instead to associate themselves with governments overtly committed to building socialism. Faced with serious balance-of-payment problems, the bait entangled in a form of economic integration is appealing.
Thus, in their bold attempts for economic recovery and in choosing to align with Chavez, Latin American and Caribbean states are also lamenting the fact that Washington only supports democracy if and only if it contributes to their strategic and economic interests.
While assenting factors advocate that ALBA focuses on social cooperation and the use of economic growth to solve the people's problems, including unemployment and illiteracy, opponents on the other hand argue that this leftist trade bloc, funded by Venezuelan oil money and Cuban and Bolivarian ideology is nothing but a front for a broader socialist and anti-American agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Deemed a destabilizing effect on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding from its infancy, the socialist movement (ALBA) is spreading across the region like a deadly epidemic, with countries such as Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and the Dominican Republic signing up as innocent lambs to the slaughter.
There is no doubt that this move yields ominous concerns, as dependence on foreign direct investment and tourism as a major propellant of development is curtailed. Concerns that the old order of power in Latin America and the Caribbean may also be permanently threatened.
As a lion disguised in sheep’s clothing, it must be seen that ALBA’s repute as an economic alliance for Latin American and Caribbean solidarity is only based on Chavez’s ideological hallucination -- an ideology that is not only masked in vengeance and hatred against the US to undermine the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) but also one that transgresses the practice of international law and bestows on Chavez the attention which he no doubt desperately craves in world politics.
Proposal for a joint ALBA military force by Venezuela and Nicaragua to replace the Inter-American Defense Board joint military aid, as well as intelligence and counterintelligence cooperation to combat the illusive terrorism and permanent aggression threat by the United States continues to be the theme of Chavez’s inflated rhetoric.
As more and more Latin American and Caribbean countries are depositing agreed amounts of their respective national currencies into a special SUCRE (Single Regional Compensation System) fund, it seems the SUCRE is rapidly replacing the US dollar as a medium of exchange with a Regional Monetary Council, and a Central Clearing House, hence decreasing US control of Latin American and Caribbean economies and fortifying Chavez’s long time insane ambition of the SUCRE becoming an international reserve currency much like the euro.
While the US sits idly by, choosing instead to label it an ‘oil conspiracy’, ignoring the Monroe Doctrine approach, which regarded the Caribbean as its backyard, emboldening its neighbours and internal groups to challenge its sovereignty, a new form of 21st century socialism now governs the economic and political policies of Latin America and the Caribbean.
It is a dramatic development, a difficult encounter and a concern of gigantic historical and commercial proportions.
March 17, 2011