HAVANA: Grenada and St. Kitts & Nevis have been accepted as members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).
As a result of their acceptance at a summit that concluded in Havana, Cuba last Sunday, all independent members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have joined ALBA, an intergovernmental organisation based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries in Latin America and Caribbean.
Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, who joined his counterparts from Dominica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis, said while “we celebrate our entry and while we give enormous praises to the sacrifices being made and consistently being made by the people of Cuba and Venezuela and the benefits we all have shared at the OECS level…we ought to understand that these sacrifices cannot be made permanently and that we have to put ourselves in a position where we can strengthen our economy and strengthen what we do”.
During the summit, Dr. Mitchell said Grenada was pleased to be accepted as a full member of ALBA, which is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its founding.
“It has been 10 years of an alternative to the traditional concepts of integration,” he said. “ALBA today stands as political alliance that promotes people-centred social policies as well as advocates for peace and non-interventionism”.
Mitchell said were it not for the vision of the late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez and former Cuban president, Fidel Castro, “we probably would not be here.
“Their determination and commitment to see a closer collaboration between the Caribbean and the rest of South and Central America are what have brought us here. After many years of colonial rule, the people of this region are determine not to let the artificial barriers of seas and languages keep us any longer apart.
“Our shared history of external exploitation commits us to a shared future of independence and solidarity. That’s why in our considered view today marks the start of another important chapter in the regional integration movement in the Americas.”
Mitchell said that ALBA is an integration movement that can be considered “a culture within the Americas and the Caribbean.
“Integration movements that are created solely to aid in the development of the region, for the benefit of its peoples, integration movements that seek to encourage and promote co-operation in the south that are people oriented rather than dependent on the traditional north-south mechanism that are not always geared towards the development of the region and its people, especially the poor and working class,” he said.