An extraordinary meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) is underway in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, primarily to discuss the controversial foreign policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Convened Friday morning by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, the meeting provided a platform for Latin American nations to voice their opposition to U.S. policies of "interventionism and imperialism."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke at length of the need for Latin America to unite in the battle against U.S. imperialism, making explicit reference to the economic sanctions against his country.
"ALBA is an example of respect towards the peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean, and our brother regions," Maduro said.
"It is very important that we establish a common economic project. They want to integrate us into the North by disintegrating Latin America.
"I ask those of us who make political decisions to take up the economic integration of ALBA, Latin America, and the Caribbean as a priority for the year 2018."
Arreaza, meanwhile, took the opportunity to denounce Trump's use of "the issue of corruption as an element to intervene in some of the countries that make up the Bolivarian Alliance."
He vowed that ALBA-TCP would adopt a stern political stance during the forthcoming Summit of the Americas – due to be held on April 13 and 14 in Lima, Peru – at which Trump will be present.
"We will give life to our Latin American and Caribbean integration mechanisms," Arreaza said, noting that "like ALBA, we have a very profitable position so that we can advance despite the siege that the empire has against us."
Denouncing the ongoing economic blockades, Arreaza said the United States "was always against the joint and bilateral cooperation of Latin America."
He also pointed out that "the Venezuelan government made a miracle to avoid any kind of imperialist action in our country," despite last year's "guarimba" demonstrations which sought to destabilize the nation.
"It was the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) itself that called for elections of governors and mayors, where the Revolution demonstrated through the ballot box and through the democratic way that it wants peace," he said.
Looking forward, Arreaza said 2018 would mark for ALBA "a new stage, a stage that continues appealing for equality, without arrogance, but without letting us be overcome by U.S. imperialism taking the political offensive against the Bolivarian Alliance."