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BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt DECEMBER 2014 • WEEK THREE
The Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas
(ALBA) Trade Treaty (TCP) can benefit T&T s
economy and development, says Coromoto
Godoy, Venezuela s Ambassador to T&T.
This comes after two other Caricom coun-
tries---Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis---were
added as the newest members to ALBA-TCP
Group on Sunday as its members celebrated
the 10th anniversary of its founding.
"Although T&T is not part of ALBA, the
Venezuelan Embassy wanted to take the oppor-
tunity to talk to nationals of T&T on ALBA
and so I invited two outstanding integrationists
of the Latin America and the Caribbean region,
Fernando Bossi, director of the ALBA Web site
and Mónica Saiz, a member of the Council
for Social Movements of ALBA, to do two
exhibitions, one at the Venezuelan Embassy
and another in the Centre for Latin American
studies at the University of the West Indies
(UWI). Both were widely attended," she told
the Guardian last Friday at the Venezuelan
Two Saturdays ago at the Venezuelan
ambassador s residence in St Clair, Bossi met
Dr Lancelot Cowie, director of Centre for Latin
America and the Caribbean (CENLAC) at UWI,
and Professor Andy Knights, director of the
Institute of International Relations at UWI
where they discussed ALBA and its potential
for regional economic and trade development.
Godoy said ALBA countries, which are made
up of some Caricom countries and some Span-
ish-speaking countries, totaling nine, has seen
development of its member countries on the
Human Development Index.
"The countries of the alliance, altogether,
went from having an index of human devel-
opment (HDI), midrange (0.658) in 2005, to
a high range (0.721) in 2012, and so we have
seen improvements in the quality of life of
the populations," she said.
She also said the gross domestic product
(GDP) of the ALBA bloc has increased.
"The GDP increased by US$82.4 billion
between 2005 and 2012. A growth not insignif-
icant if one takes into account what occurred
at the outbreak of the global economic crisis
that began in 2008," she said.
Godoy added that in terms of natural and
other energy resources, ALBA has Venezuela
and Bolivia which are both oil and gas pro-
ducers and she said this provides energy secu-
rity for the region.
Although,T&T is not an official member of
ALBA, she said ALBA s programme, which
offers free eye surgery to its members, is also
open to T&T s citizens.
Bossi, director of the ALBA Web site who
spoke at UWI two weeks ago, told the Business
Guardian that although T&T is not an official
member, integration can be done in stages.
"One of the features of ALBA is the respect
for the sovereignty of each of the countries
that integrates it. There are countries that are
at an intermediate stage, observers, and others
showing interest in participating in this space.
All these decisions are respected, understood
that this does not remove ALBA to develop
a permanent dialogue and exchange of views
with all the countries of the region and that
may be beneficiaries of the ALBA countries,
because they can receive some common ben-
efits, for example there are countries that are
not in the ALBA, but their fellow citizens can
participate in the Latin American School of
Medicine. Recently a contingent of Guatemala
was welcomed in Venezuela to be operated by
the mission miracle," he said.
Venezuela is seen as the main driver of ALBA
and the drastic fall in oil prices has left some
questioning the viability of this bloc.
Although, PetroCaribe is a different insti-
tution from ALBA, Venezuela is also the main
driver of the oil-trading arrangement that
includes most members of ALBA.
According to a Bloomberg report in Novem-
ber, Venezuela s cheap financing has softened
the blow of oil prices that have averaged
US$100 a barrel since the programme was
created in 2005. The Caribbean region spent
13 percent of its GDP on oil imports, the World
Bank said in a 2012 report, and PetroCaribe
members have defaulted on debt obligations
at least nine times since 2003.
Under PetroCaribe, Venezuela finances as
much as 60 per cent of the cost of oil ship-
ments. The Bank of Nova Scotia said the pro-
gramme is more "noose" than lifeline for the
region, the most indebted in the world.
In Jamaica, projects funded with Venezuelan
oil have provided aid to small farmers and
businesses, refurbished a zoo and replaced pit
latrines in schools with flushing toilets.
In Grenada, the discounted Venezuelan oil
funds 40 per cent of social programmes, from
textbooks and free lunches for children to pay-
ing for roads and buses. Haiti uses the oil
money for food distribution programmes and
for monthly allowances for the poor. The
Dominican Republic has used the program to
plug a fiscal hole.
The IMF has warned regional governments
of looming problems with PetroCaribe.
"The likelihood of disruption is more likely
than it was because Venezuela is under greater
pressure," said Adrienne Cheasty, deputy direc-
tor of the IMF s Western Hemisphere unit.
1. ALBA has produced tens of thousands of
Through the Latin American School of Med-
icine campuses in Cuba and Venezuela, ALBA
has produced some 21,075 doctors and 1,590
2. Over three million people have had their
vision restored by ALBA.
Through the Miracle Mission, more than
three million people have undergone surgery
to have their eyesight improved or recovered
at no cost.
3. Almost four million people have learned
to read through ALBA-supported programmes.
Using the "Yes I Can" teaching method
designed by Cuba, a total of 3,815,092 million
people have become literate throughout the
region because of ALBA programs. UNESCO
has declared ALBA members Antigua and Bar-
buda, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela
as "Illiteracy-Free Territories."
4. ALBA countries pledged US$2.42 billion
in aid to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Just after the devastating quake, ALBA also
set up five camps with comprehensive care,
which housed 3,455 families, provided 55,939
medical consultations and administered 5,904
5. ALBA sent over 100 tonnes of supplies
to Gaza after the Israeli-Gaza war this sum-
The Venezuelan people have sent 56 tonnes
of humanitarian aid, while Ecuadorians donated
48 tones and Cuba sent six tons of aid to Gaza
following Israel s deadly offensive against the
occupied strip, dubbed Operation Protective
Edge. These shipments included tents, non-
perishable food items, water, clothes and med-
6. ALBA Games have set new athletic records
In 2005, the ALBA Athletic Games were set
up to promote physical activity and solidarity
among peoples. In the four competitions con-
vened so far, a record 10,532 athletes have
7. Four ALBA countries have been declared
free from hunger by the United Nations.
Grenadines, St Vincent, Venezuela and Cuba
have been declared hunger free by the Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN
Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have also made
significant progress in this area.
8. ALBA has developed an alternative cur-
rency to move away from dependence on the
To date, 5,657 transactions totalling US$2.5
billion have taken place using the SUCRE. The
currency was developed by ALBA so that inter-
national trade would not depend on US cur-
rency and exchanges. In the first half of 2014,
76 percent of those trading using the SUCRE
were private enterprises and 24 percent rep-
resented the public sector.
9. ALBA is growing.
In the last 10 years the bloc has grown
tremendously. It has expanded from its two
signing partners in Cuba and Venezuela to
include Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Domini-
ca, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia as well as
St Vincent and the Grenadines. Suriname and
Haiti are also slated to become members.
Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis join ALBA...
Trade group looks to T&T
Fernando Bossi, director of the
ALBA Web site
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