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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Latin America: No Longer for Sale, Tamara Pearson

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Webmaster’s note: the inaugural summit of the recently concluded Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was attended by 13 CARICOM leaders, several of whom spoke out strongly in support of the new organisation, which aims to consolidate the unity and independence of the entire region. Tamara Pearson, who covered the summit for Venezuelanalysis.com,,   captures the feeilng and flavour of the historic meeting.

“Haha, Ortega doesn’t know what he’s talking about, neither does Evo, they don’t know anything about crime, there are reports out there that know more,” said a journalist from Bloomberg to his colleague. The journalist was sitting next to me in the press tent set up outside the CELAC plenary sessions in the Patio de Honor of the Bolivarian Militia University of Venezuela…

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Final Declaration of Havana Approved

Declaration adopted by the Cuba-CARICOM Summit

CARICOM’S stinging rebuke to the United States Rickey Singh

US Committing blunder after blunder Raffique Shah

Re-emergence of Suriname’s Bouterse: Political Acumen and Geopolitical Anxiety, Ivelaw Griffith

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Monograph of the Western Hemisphere Security Analysis Center, Florida International University, June 2011. Professor Griffith is a political scientist from the Caribbean and is Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of York College, The City University of New York.

The re-emergence of Desie Bouterse as President of Suriname in 2010 reflects his political acumen in aggregating disparate political interests and in establishing a viable coalition government…. (but it) has generated anxiety in some places internationally. This study examines anxieties related to,   (a) relations with Guyana, where there is an existing territorial dispute and a recently resolved maritime dispute, (b) illegal drug trafficking operations, and (c) foreign policy engagement with Venezuela….

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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

Caribbean-Latin American Cooperation: Recent Developments, Stronger Ties, Joyce van Genderen-Naar

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The year 2010 saw significant strengthening of ties between Latin America and the two CARICOM countries on the continental mainland: the launch of Community of 32 Latin American and Caribbean States (CLACS) in February, the first Brazilian-CARICOM Summit in April, the UNASUR Summit in Guyana in November and the 40th MERCOSUR meeting in December attended by the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname; culiminating in the New Year’s Day 2011 inauguration of the President of Brazil Dilma Vana Rousseff, attended by Latin American Heads of State including the President of Suriname.

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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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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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ALBA and Petrocaribe: An Alternative to Neoliberal Integration? Norman Girvan

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Presentation at XI Conference on Globalization and Problems of Development, Havana, Cuba, March 4, 2009

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There is An Alternative,  Yes Cuba, No. 7.

ALBA, Petrocaribe and Caricom, Norman Girvan

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Issues in a New Dynamic (30/05/08)

The emergence of Venezuelan-promoted ALBA and Petrocaribe and their growing relations with several Caricom countries is a significant recent development in regional affairs; with Petrocaribe now the largest source of concessional lending to Caribbean oil-importing countries. This paper examines the trade, financial and social cooperation programmes of ALBA and concludes that participation in ALBA is not incompatible with membership of Caricom. It also addresses broader strategic issues including diversification of Caricom’s international economic relations; opportunities for mutually advantageous forms of South-South cooperation; and the scope,   for a coordinated trade policy by Caricom…

Click here for full paper (PDF file)

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Dominica and ALBA, Norman Girvan

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Dominica’s announced decision to sign on to ALBA—the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas—has been the subject of some media comment because of its supposed undermining of Caricom. However, this is by no means the first time that a Caricom member state has acted in a way that might be at variance with its regional commitments and responsibilities….

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ALBA seen as avenue to economic aid for small Caricom states -Prof Vaughan Lewis, (Stabroek News, Sunday February 3, 2008)

The ALBA advances, by Eduardo Dimas (progreso weekly, January 31 – February 5, 2008)

CARICOM and ALBA (Stabroek News Editorial, February 17, 2008)

There is no basis for concluding a priori that Dominica’s action of ALBA is inconsistent with its membership of CARICOM (Norman Girvan, Stabroek News, February 19, 2008)

Is ALBA more than a storm in a teacup? (Peter Richards, 4/03/08)