Caribbean Political Economy

Chavez Victory: Socialism in a Rentier State, James Petras

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From Global Research: Center for Research on Globalization.

To understand the opportunities and constraints which the government faces, it is essential to outline not only the positive strengths of the government but the complex and difficult structural features of ‘transiting’ in an essentially ‘rentier economy and society’ based on extractive enclaves, essentially a petrol economy…

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Why Ecuador will not attend the Cartagena Summit, Rafael Correa

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In his letter to his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador avers,  ”By definition a meeting that intentionally and unjustly excludes one American country cannot be called a “Summit of the Americas”… we all know that we are dealing with a veto by hegemonic countries, an intolerable situation for our America in the 21st century…”

President Correa’s letter (English translation)

Afro-Venezuelans commemorate abolition of slavery, organize against racist opposition cartoon

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The cartoon links the Afro-Venezuelan community to allegedly contaminated water in Caracas.

Highlighting the need to maintain the struggle against racism and discrimination in the South American country, Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua addressed a meeting of the Afro-Descendants Council of the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) held in the capital of Caracas last Saturday…

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‘Smaddification’, Affirmation and Caribbeanity: The Caribbean That Unites Us, Norman Girvan

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Transcript of an interview conducted during the Havana Book Fair in February 2012.

(Extract) What unites us is a common frame of reference of our historical experience. But what also unites us, in a context of diversity, has been the affirmation of what my old friend and colleague Rex Nettleford called “smaddification”…All the labor that was brought here was brought here in a condition of exploitation of one way or another and the process of creating a Caribbean identity out of those conditions is a process of resistance, of struggle and of affirmation of self, of the dignity of the human person and of the right to autonomy of our societies…

Transcript of interview

El Caribe Que Nos Une (Versión en español)

The ALBA Summit, the Caribbean and Haiti, Kevin Edmonds

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The weekend of February 4th and 5th saw the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) convene their 11th summit in Caracas, Venezuela. ALBA began as an alternative vision to the reckless neoliberal agenda promoted by Washington throughout Latin America and the Caribbean…

More ALBA Expands its Caribbean Allies (Part 1)

More ALBA’s Reconstruction Solidarity with Haiti (Part 2)

ALBA Advances Towards ‘Alternative Economic Model’, Rachael Boothroyd

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From Venezuelanalysis.com 6 February 2012

The presidents discussed a series of themes relating to ALBA’s role within the regional economy and various foreign policy issues. The body also approved several declarations relating to global political concerns, including pronouncements on Syria and the current diplomatic altercation between the UK and Argentina with relation to the Falkland Islands….

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Agreements and Declarations at XI ALBA Summit

The economic question is fundamental to ALBA’s success, Raul Castro

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Sober reflection from the Cuban president on the pitfalls of excessive enthusiasm and the necessity to ‘do the numbers’ on ALBA plans and projects.

I am not an economist, I always ran away from numbers…(in Cuba nowadays) care is being taken to ensure that we study things, that we study feasibility carefully and don’t let ourselves get carried away with enthusiasm. I think that this way, we are actually going to move more rapidly…

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Haiti: Tapping the Past, Facing the Future, Reginald Dumas

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Keynote address at the 23rd Annual Conference of the Haitian Studies Association, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, Friday, November 11, 2011. Ambassador Reginald Dumas is a distinguished former diplomat of Trinidad and Tobago who served as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Haiti in 2004.

Let me indicate at the outset what I shall not be talking about this morning…I shall not be talking about Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I shall not be talking about what we have come to call “Haiti’s glorious past”. I have the greatest admiration for the exploits and achievements of Boukman and Toussaint and Dessalines and Christophe and others who fought successfully for independence, but we should in my view be focusing less on the past and much more on Haiti’s somewhat less than glorious present, and on the possibilities for its future…

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Comment: A Timely, Critical look at Haiti, Rickey Singh

ALBA Declaration on Libya and Syria

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The Foreign Ministers of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, meeting in Caracas, Venezuela on 9 September 2011, recalling the Special Communiqué of the Political Council on 4 March 2011 and the Special Communiqué of the Ministerial Social Council on 19 March 2011, condemns the NATO intervention in Libya and its illegal military aggression, carried out under the cover of a UN Security Council resolution, opportunistically exploiting the situation of the internal political conflict in that country..

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Is ALBA a New Model of Integration? Reflections on the CARICOM Experience, Norman Girvan

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Forthcoming in the International Journal of Cuban Studies, September 2011

This paper is a step towards evaluating the claims of ALBA to be a new model of integration that is superior to neoliberal integration schemes. It draws lessons from the experience of three Caribbean countries which at one and the same time are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); participate in an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and are members of ALBA..

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PetroCaribe: Fine Example of Political Collaboration Jamaica Gleaner 27 August 2012

ALBA and the Future of Regional Integration

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A total of 77 people attended the first international academic conference on the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) held at London Metropolitan University on 29 January, which attracted academics from Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Canada, Cuba, Venezuela and the English-speaking Caribbean. Papers dealt with ALBA and regionalism in South America, research on ALBA in Venezuela, Cuba’s medical mission in Venezuela, ALBA ‘grandnational’ projects, ALBA and the English-speaking Caribbean,,   and the successes, setbacks and challenges of ALBA.

Click here for the Conference Programme, Abstracts and Presentations

ALBA and CARICOM: Paradoxes and Problematique, Norman Girvan

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Presented at a Conference on ALBA and the Future of Regional Integration held at London Metropolitan University, January 29, 2011; the presentation explores issues arising out of the simultaneous membership of three Caribbean countries in ALBA, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union; and assesses ALBA’s claims to represent a superior alternative to neoliberal integration schemes that is based on solidarity and cooperation. Issues raised include the compatibility of simultaneous membership in schemes that are so different from one another; whether ALBA represents an alternative to the other two; ideological vs. financial motivation; and ‘asymmterical’ vs. ‘non-reciopocated’ solidarity.

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Conference Programme and Abstracts

London Metropolitan University Hosts First ALBA-PTA Conference Report on VHeadline.com

What’s Happening in Haiti? Emiliano Mariscal

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The following is an English translation of an item that was published on the website of ALBA-TCP on Thursday 4, November and forwarded by a colleague. It appears to be a letter written by an Argentine doctor serving with the Cuban medical brigade in Haiti to,  his friends and family,  in response to their concerns,  about the cholera outbreak and the,  approach of tropical storm/hurricane Tomas. It relates how,  the Cuban medical brigade, working with the Haitian authorities, helped to detect,  the cholera outbreak, to provide early treatment,,  and to delay its spread to Port au Prince.,  Such examples of,  solidarity seem to be,  worth emulating in the light of the controversy that has broken out in CARICOM over conditions attached,  to relief assistance.

To my friends and family: These lines are meant to provide information on the health situation in Haiti, as a result of the concern of many friends who have written asking about conditions here. The first thing I can say is that we have a disease–cholera–which has not been reported in this country for over 100 years. Secondly, that it is one of the most dreaded diseases here, given the ideal conditions that exist for its persistence and spread…

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The Anti-Venezuela Election Campaign, Mark Weisbrot

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Venezuela’s election is not until September, but the international campaign to delegitimise the government has already begun..

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Bolivia, Ecuador: Economic Defiance Pays Off, Mark Weisbrot

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Among the conventional wisdom that we hear every day in the business press is that developing countries should bend over backwards to create a friendly climate for foreign corporations, follow orthodox (neo-liberal) macro-economic policy advice, strive to achieve an investment-grade sovereign credit rating so as to attract more foreign capital.

Guess what country is expected to have the fastest economic growth in the Americas this year? Bolivia….

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The Caribbean and Latin America at the Rendezvous of History, Melanie Newton

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From “In The Diaspora”, Stabroek News, October 19, 2009

Melanie Newton is a Barbadian and Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto

In 2004 two events sent shock waves across the Caribbean Sea, presenting us with two radically different blueprints for future hemispheric relations. In February a combined force of American, Canadian and French troops slipped into Haiti in the dead of night, “convinced” President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign, and spirited him out of the country into exile. Over the past five years the United Nations has occupied Haiti, ostensibly helping to build democracy, but, in reality, crushing democratic opposition movements. In a historic turn of events, Brazil, which has emerged in recent years as a regional superpower, has led UN forces in Haiti since 2005.

Meanwhile, in December 2004, the governments of Venezuela and Cuba spearheaded the Bolivarian People’s Alternative (now the Bolivarian Alliance, or ALBA). ALBA has sought a new kind of relationship between independent Caribbean and Latin American states…

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Click here for Bolivar’s ‘Jamaica Letter’

Results of the 7th ALBA Summit, Norman Girvan

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The 7th ALBA Summit (16-17 October 09) has concluded in Bolivia with the adoption of a 30-point Final Declaration containing a 36-point Plan of Action for economic, social, political and defence cooperation…

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News Items from 8th ALBA Summit, Havana, 13-14 December 2009

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda highlights importance of ALBA at 8th Summit

ALBA: The Power of an Idea, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at Conference on Transformation, Latin America on the Move! Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S., Canada, October 2-3 2009. Programme details and presentations at http://www.transformationlatinamerica.blogspot.com

7 Features of Latin America’s ‘New Orientation/Declaration of Indigenous People 2009 World Social Forum/Signs of the changing times/English speaking Caribbean Draws Nearer to Latin America/Popular resistance to the Honduras Coup/ALBA–From ‘Alternativa’ to ‘Alianza/ALBA Mission and Principles/ALBA Practices and Projects/Petrocaribe/Recent Developments/ALBA Issues/ALBA Social Movements Network

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Related articles

Nicaragua and ALBANISA: The Privatisation of Venzuelan Aid COHA

Understanding Populism and Political Participation: The Case of Nicaragua; By Carlos F. Chamorro, Edmundo Jarquí­n and Alejandro Bendaña. Edited by Cynthia J. Arnson and Adam T. Stubits. Woodrow Wilson Center Update On The Americas, No. 4, June 2009

Trends in South-South Cooperation ECOSOC

Hugo Chavez and the Private Media

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by Salim Lamrani

Salim Lamrani is a French Researcher Denis-Diderot University in Parí­s, specialising in Cuba-U.S. relations.

Salim Lamrani is a French Researcher Denis-Diderot University in Parí­s, specialising in Cuba-U.S. relations.

On August 2, 2009, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) issued a statement denouncing the closure of “thirty four broadcast media at the government’s behest” in Venezuela. The Paris-based organization “vigorously condemns the massive closure of broadcast media” and asks: “Is it still possible to publicly express any criticism at all of President Hugo Chavez’s ‘Bolivarian’ government? This massive closure of mainly opposition media is dangerous for the future of democratic debate in Venezuela and is motivated by the government’s desire to silence dissent. It will only exacerbate social divisions.” (1)

RWB makes reference to the decision taken by the Venezuelan National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) on August 1, 2009 to withdraw the broadcast licenses of thirty-four radio and television stations. According to RWB, this decision is motivated only by the fact that these media outlets criticized the government of Hugo Chavez. In short, it was a political act intended to silence the opposition press. The vast majority of the Western media has repeated this interpretation. (2)

However this is not the situation and RWB and the media multinationals have carefully concealed the truth in order to mislead public opinion and present the most democratic government in Latin America (Hugo Chavez has faced 15 electoral processes since coming to power in 1998 and has emerged victorious in fourteen of these elections, all praised by the international community for their transparency) as a regime which seriously violates freedom of expression.

Indeed, in similar circumstances any country in the world would have made the same decision Conatel did. Several stations deliberately ignored a summons from the Commission designed to determine the status of their licenses and bring them up to date. After an investigation, Conatel discovered numerous irregularities, such as deceased licensees whose licenses were being used by third persons, non-renewal of the required administrative procedures, or simply the lack of authorization to broadcast. Venezuelan law, like that in the rest of the world, stipulates that a media outlet that fails to renew its concession within a specified time period or that broadcasts without authorization will lose its transmission frequency, which will then revert back to the public domain. Thus, thirty-four stations that were broadcasting illegally lost their licenses. (3)

In fact, the decision by Conatel, far from restricting freedom of expression, has put an end to an illegal situation and has initiated a policy of democratization of the Venezuelan radio spectrum with the goal of putting it at the disposition of the community. In reality, 80% of radio and television stations in Venezuela are privately owned, while only 9% of them are public and the rest belonging to associations or communities. Moreover, the majority of Venezuelan private media is concentrated in the hands of 32 families. (4)

Thus, RWB and the western media have totally distorted a routine measure taken by Conatel to put an end to an illegal situation.

RWB has chosen as its modus operandi a tooth-and-nail defense of the Venezuelan opposition, which was responsible for the April 2002 coup against Chavez, a coup that the Parisian organization endorsed immediately. In particular, RWB defends the coup-supporting channel Globovision, which RWB considers the symbol of freedom of expression in Venezuela. (5) However, RWB fails to point out that in addition to its active participation in the 2002 coup, Globovision supported the sabotage of the Venezuelan oil industry that same year, launched a call for taxpayers not to pay their taxes, and called for insurrection and the assassination of President Chavez. (6)

Recently, Globovision supported the junta behind the coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically elected president Jose Manuel Zelaya, a coup unanimously condemned by the international community. The owner of Globovision, William Zuloaga Nunez, recognized the illegal government of Micheletti, launching at the same time a call for a coup d’état in Venezuela: “The Micheletti government is following the constitution and we wish, we would love it if in Venezuela the constitution would be respected as it is being respected in Honduras.” (7)

RWB does not defend freedom of expression in Venezuela. Rather it prefers to take the side of the enemies of democracy.

(Translated from Spanish to English by David Brookbank)
Notes

(1) Reporters Without Borders, , «Trente-quatre médias audiovisuels sacrifiés par caprice gouvernemental, », 2 de agosto de 2009. http://www.rsf.org/Trente-quatre-medias-audiovisuels.html (sitio consultado el 3 de agosto de 2009). Reporters Without Borders, “Thirty four broadcast media shut down at government’s behest”, August 2, 2009. http://rsf.org/34-broadcast-media-shut-down-at.html (site consulted on August 3, 2009).

(2) Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, , «Productores independientes respaldan suspensión de emisoras radiales ilegales, », 4 de agosto de 2009.

(3) Fabiola Sánchez, , «Radios desafí­an a Chávez operando por Internet, », The Associated Press, 3 de agosto de 2009.

(4) Thierry Deronne, , «Au Venezuela, la bataille populaire pour démocratiser le ‘latifundio’ des ondes, », 2 de agosto de 2009. En español: La batalla popular para democratizar el latifundio de las ondas; Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, , «Medida de Conatel no afectará libertad de expresión e información en Venezuela, », 4 de agosto de 2009.

(5) Reporters Without Borders, , «Le gouvernement accélí¨re sa croisade contre les médias privés en voulant modifier les lois et les rí¨gles, », 21 de julio de 2009. Reporters Without Borders, “Government steps up hounding of private media through new laws and regulations”, July 21, 2009.

(6) Salim Lamrani, , «Reporters sans frontií¨res contre la démocratie vénézuélienne, », Voltaire, 2 juillet 2009.

The Honduras Coup, ALBA, and the English-Speaking Caribbean

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by Faiz Ahmed

The military coup carried out by masked soldiers in the early hours of June 28 against the democratically elected President of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, was a bandit act with differing messages intended for different audiences.

One such audience is the oligarchical groupings throughout the hemisphere, who will be emboldened by Washington’s tacit tolerance of the coup makers.,   Another audience is the Latin American leftist and popular governments, who are being told that their agendas can be trumped by non-democratic means.

And there is yet another audience: the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean governments who, like Zelaya, are far from ideologically opposed to capitalism, but are aware of their inability to improve the overall quality of life of their societies within capitalism’s current configuration.,   As a result, many of these island governments are edging towards regional agreements based on principles antithetical to the capitalist system.

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