The Thing about ALBA

Photo: Rebeca

Since its founding ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas) has always raised great doubts. As stated at its inception, it was created to promote economic cooperation between its members. It has become instead a clumsy political instrument, a part of the new Latin American populist left as headed by the president of Venezuela, who is, in the end, the one who provides all the capital for the project. And, as we all know, “he who pays, calls the shots.” The examples are abundant and quite well-known.

The alliance’s latest declarations confirm this. First, a resolution called for the immediate pull-out of its member countries from USAID (US Agency for International Development) due to interference and the financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as for activities and projects meant to destabilize legitimate governments that are not in tune with the agency’s interests.

Second, in a special statement it rejected the impeachment of the president of Paraguay by that country’s senate (which, along with the president, was democratically elected) in a 73 to 1 vote (even though the majority vote included members of his own party). In a display of blatant interference it declared its support for the impeached president, calling on the people of that country to defend democracy and reminding Paraguay of its reliance on the support of Latin America and the Caribbean. So what does this mean? That one type of interference is good and the other bad?

This is nothing new. When similar problems arose in Honduras, it behaved in the same way. In a fit of hysteria it tried to reinstate the Honduran president, who had been removed from power, by flying him home in a Venezuelan plane and launching an air operation which failed. It then tried to sneak him across the border with Nicaragua only to see him holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Brazil had allowed itself to play this dirty little game, forgetting that it was supposed to be acting as mediator.

Later Venezuela entered into an alliance with Ecuador, beating the drums of war against Colombia, in a dispute involving the presidents of these three countries. In the end this whole media fuss simply melted away, diplomatic relations were restored, and nothing ended up happening. Politics as usual! More recently, it has continued to follow the same orthodox ideological line. It maintained its unconditional support for Gaddafi until the end. It also maintains support for Syria’s Assad, for the leadership in Iran, and for a few such others.

It is worth noting that, when there have been problems in some of its member countries, or in countries in tune with its policies, it adopts an attitude of blatant interference, taking positions of unconditional support for their presidents. This is something it does not do when dealing with those countries less in tune, in which case support is given to those who oppose these governments, no matter who they might be.

ALBA more closely resembles an instrument created to destabilize Latin America than to foster its integration. It uses all its resources to support the access to power by politicians who share its ideology, many of whom are messianic addicts of perpetual power. It also carries out systematic economic and social proselytizing in the countries where it operates with the objective of grooming followers to share its totalitarian vision.

Venezuela and its allies are attempting now to revive the Cold War politics the now-defunct Soviet Union practiced towards its satellites and client states. But Venezuela is not the former Soviet Union and its fancying itself a comparable Latin American power has little basis in reality. With the possible exception of Ecuador its companions on this absurd adventure are a few poor, economically broken countries, dependent on its petroleum and its dollars. They have chosen to live off this rich uncle, obeying him more as a means of survival than out of any real political loyalty. Fortunately, ALBA, with its extreme ideological positions, which are not in any significant way the result of serious and objective analysis, seems to have a short shelf life given its falling growth rate and the possible physical disappearance of its principal agent and financial backer.

June 29 2012

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