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Posts Tagged ‘Nicaragua’

Last week, over Thanksgiving, it’s safe to say that some Latin Americans may have given thanks for increased cooperation among countries in the region.

Venezuela hosted a summit of ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the America) last Wednesday in Caracas which brought together the leaders of member countries Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, and Dominica. Also in attendance was President Correa of Ecuador.

Among the initiatives proposed by Venezuela was the creation of a common currency. President Chavez said it could act as “a monetary zone of solidarity-based commercial exchange” to reduce dependence on the U.S. and financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank.

Read news articles here and here, or check out the ALBA declaration issued November 26th in Spanish here.

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Latin American leaders met yesterday to talk about what is becoming a pressing global issue: the supply of affordable basic foods. Diets in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean rely on staples like corn, rice, and other grains, and their price has doubled in the last three years. Shortages have caused riots in Haiti and parts of Africa and Asia, and in the U.S., major bulk grocery stores have limited rice purchases by customers.

Luckily, Latin American governments seem to be taking a pro-active approach to the issue of food security.

A new regional agreement signed by representatives of 17 countries under the ALBA regional integration initiative is based on a proposal by Venezuela that also addresses energy security. Countries vowed to increase food production by pursuing agricultural reform and investing more in the agricultural sector, perhaps asking private banks to do so as well. Also, greater cross-border cooperation in food supply issues was prioritized to create “fair trade within and between the countries that results in fair prices for producers and consumers.”

The ALBA initiative includes a $100 million fund by Venezuela that is aimed at boosting cereal production. The money will help finance programs including a grain bank for the region. Another meeting is planned for later this month.

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With concerns about global food security mounting, a group of Latin American leaders including Venezuela’s President Chavez met to create a special fund that would offset future crises.

The food security fund, which is under the auspices of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, begins with $100 million. The investment will be used to guard against shortages of basic foods in member countries Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

The ALBA agreement comes just in time; yesterday, the UN World Food Program said that the recent rise in food prices could cause more than 100 million people to suffer from hunger. To read more, click here and here.

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By now you’ve probably heard it said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez likes nothing more than to “snub” the United States whenever possible.

What you may not have heard is that, most of the time, his policy initiatives are considered genuine attempts at fostering economic development for Venezuela and other countries in the region.

One such effort, the ALBA Bank, is being launched in Venezuela this weekend with government representatives from Nicaragua, Bolivia and Cuba. The ALBA Bank could begin with as much as $1.5 billion in capital to fund social programs and regional economic development, according to Venezuelan officials.

The bank is being inaugurated as part of the activities of the sixth summit of ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas). It was also announced today that ALBA will include a cultural fund used to promote the production of books, movies, and fine arts in the member countries. The cultural fund will help preserve the popular and folk cultures that are unique to each country.

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