Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends the 17th summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA-TCP), which is taking place in Havana, Cuba, on Saturday.
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"At such a complex time for Latin America and the Caribbean, this ALBA summit brings a message of hope," Maduro said and added that this alliance announces the emergence of "a new wave of anti-neoliberal changes, which will allow us to face the 'great struggle' for the future path of Latin America".
The Venezuelan president also recalled the first meeting between Fidel Castro (1926-2016) and Hugo Chavez (1954-2013), which was held on December 13, 1994, in the Cuban capital.
These two Latin American revolutionaries' embrace marked the "beginning of a new era of resistance, hope, and patriotic strength, which fills many in the region with enthusiasm," Maduro said.
"25 years of the meeting between two men who marked forever the history of humanity and allowed the reunion of the dreams of Bolivar and Marti. With the brotherhood of Chavez and Fidel, the seed of hope was reborn in the peoples of our America."
After 15 years of its foundation, ALBA continues to be built as a platform for the integration of Latin America and Caribbean countries, which emphasizes solidarity, justice, and cooperation.
Its founding members are Cuba and Venezuela since 2004. Subsequently, they were joined by Bolivia (2006), Nicaragua (2007), Dominica (2008), Honduras (2008), Antigua and Barbuda (2009), Ecuador (2009), San Vicente Las Granadinas (2009), Saint Lucia (2013), and Saint Kitts and Nevis (2014).
In the last 11 years, however, the number of ALBA member countries slightly decreased with the arrival of right-wing governments in Latin America.
In 2009, the de-facto President Roberto Micheletti removed Honduras from the regional agreement. Later Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno requested the departure of his country from ALBA in 2018.
ALBA-TCP means union, solidarity, and complementarity. It is Milagro Mission, community physicians, PetroCaribe, literacy, and fair trade. It is America's anti-imperialist and libertarian consciousness. ALBA will advance and overcome imperial aggression. 15 years of ALBA accompanying our peoples.
Unlike the U.S.-backed integration schemes, ALBA-TCP does not convert trade and investment into ends in themselves but into means to achieve other more important development goals.
Through the promotion of more intense economic relations among its member countries, ALBA-TCP seeks to strengthen cooperation mechanisms with less-developed nations as well as solidarity programs for the benefit of their peoples.
In that sense, for example, using the educational methods used in Cuba, ALBA-TCP contributed to the eradication of illiteracy in Venezuela (2005), Bolivia (2008), and Nicaragua (2009).