Monday, May 01, 2006

Latin Leftists Forge Cooperation

Shouldn't be news to some of you but just in case here is an article talking about the trade agreements with the leftiest governements in Latin America (Cuba, Venezuala and Bolivia). Fidel keeps training Chavez.... and trying to stengthen thier power in the region...

Latin Leftists Forge Cooperation
Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba up the ante in challenging U.S. influence
Alex Argote (alexphil)
Published on 2006-05-01 16:34 (KST)

Three leftist Latin American leaders recently inked an accord on Saturday which promises to strengthen their countries' economic and political ties against the macho posturing of the United States.

The trio -- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Cuba's Fidel Castro, and Evo Morales of Bolivia -- met in Havana late last week to discuss the future of their respective nations and of South America as a whole.

At the conclusion of their summit, the three decided to reject the American form of free trade and formulate a socialist version of regional economic and political cooperation. Dubbed as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, the pact was ostensibly created as a counterweight to the U.S.-backed FTAA -- the Free Trade Area of the Americas -- and the Andean community bloc. By forming a strong trade alliance with Cuba and Bolivia, Chavez hopes to dilute the heavy North American influence and control in the region.

In the deal, Cuba promised to send physicians to Bolivia to offer medical help to indigents and educators to assist in literacy campaigns. Venezuela will send fuel to the nation and wrap up a US$100 million fund for development projects, as well as an additional $30 million for social support programs. Also, to alleviate Bolivia's agricultural market woes, Venezuela and Cuba agreed to buy the nation's soybean products after Bolivia was left in the cold with the signing of a free trade pact between Washington and Columbia.

Morales reportedly said, "In Cuba and Venezuela, we find unconditional solidarity." He added, "They are the best allies in changing Bolivia."

Garbed in his trademark olive-green uniform, Castro, who will turn 80 in August, said he was most happy in sharing the spotlight with younger leaders with the same mindset and principles.

The Cuban strongman led a brutal revolution in the late 1950s against the capitalist regime of Fulgencio Batista. Years later, the CIA launched an ill-fated counterrevolution and invasion by several hundred Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs.

A former military officer, Chavez led a failed coup d'etat in 1992. Undaunted, he changed tactics in ascending to the top job and founded the leftist Fifth Republic Movement, which greatly helped in propelling him to power in the presidential elections of 1998. Reelected in 2000, Chavez launched his pet organization, the enormous Bolivarian Missions, to fight malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, poverty, and other social problems. He also railed and acted against the imperialist Washington consensus by propping up alternative models of economic programs and called on Third World countries to develop their own economic forums and cooperation that will be fair to every one involved.

Increasingly vocal against American domination of South American affairs, Chavez earned the ire of Washington, and he strongly believed that the United States orchestrated the 2002 coup against him and the recall referendum to remove him from the presidency. Having survived both attempts on his political star, Chavez now firmly believes that the CIA is now plotting an elaborate, complex military plan to remove him from the picture.

In the meantime, Chavez is almost frantically working to shore up his defenses and regional support by encouraging the rise of ideologically friendly politicians in neighboring countries, particularly Bolivia, Peru, and Nicaragua.

According to Gary Hufbauer, an economist at the Institute for International Economics, "The agreement is a clever mixture of politics and commerce, and weighted toward the politics."

Being the world's fifth largest oil-exporter and a major gas supplier to the United States, Venezuela is quite awash with greenbacks and thus can afford to challenge the West. By seriously backing Peruvian candidate Ollanta Humala and encouraging the political rebirth of leftist Daniel Ortega in the Nicaraguan scene, Chavez is slowly, deliberately nurturing a socialist bloc in Latin America, which may be the ultimate political solution to oppressive Western control over the southern hemisphere.

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