The Declaration stated, “We reject the concerted aggressions and manipulations against the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as well as the deceptions and lies that threaten its sovereignty, independence and stability as well as that of the entire region. We condemn the interfering, illegal and pro-imperialist conduct of the Secretary General of OAS. . . . We back the Bolivarian Republic, which has restored the rights and dignity of millions of human beings within and outside its borders.” See the full text: “Declaration of the XV Political Council of ALBA.”
ALBA was established as an alternative to the Free-Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which was a proposed project of economic integration directed by and in the interests of the United States. FTAA could not be implemented, because of opposition by key Latin American governments.
Founded in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba, ALBA was conceived as an alternative form of cooperation based on mutual respect and solidarity, and envisioning an integral form of integration, social and cultural as well as economic. Today the member countries of ALBA are Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and the Caribbean States of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Granada (see “The rise of ALBA” 3/11/2014).
Whereas ALBA is a project of integration forged from below by the neocolonized, the Organization of American States was imposed from above by the neocolonial hegemonic power. OAS was established in 1948, with the intention of institutionalizing US-control of Inter-American economic and political structures. It was the culmination of a fifty-year U.S. quest to establish a Pan-American system, initially proposed by Secretary of State James Blaine of the Harrison administration. Twelve Inter-American conferences were held from 1889 to 1942; but Latin American governments refused to cooperate. Nevertheless, with World War II militarization driving a U.S. ascent to hegemonic dominance, the United States was able in the post-war years to impose its interests on the region, and the Organization of American States was born.
U.S. economic, political and ideological domination of Latin America was systemic during the second half of the twentieth century. However, it was not unchallenged. Popular revolutions triumphed in Cuba in 1959, in Chile in 1970, and in Nicaragua in 1979. A revolutionary sector was a significant component of popular movements in every nation, with short-lived takings of political power in Guatemala in 1951, Bolivia in 1952, Brazil in 1960, and Grenada in 1979, and with sustained revolutionary guerrilla movements in El Salvador and Colombia.
The neocolonial hegemonic power attacked all of these challenges. Cuba was expelled from the OAS, and a still-existing commercial and financial blockade was imposed. Nicaragua was subjected to a decade of “low-intensity warfare” directed by the United States. The government of Grenada was overthrown by U.S. invasion, and that of Guatemala was ended by a U.S.-financed invasion. Bolivia, unable to benefit economically from the nationalization of its tin mines, was pressured into cooperation. The governments of Chile and Brazil were overthrown by U.S.-supported military coups d’état, leading to long dictatorships. And the governments of El Salvador and Columbia were provided with extensive U.S. military aid.
However, in the twenty-first century the challenges to U.S. neocolonial domination have arrived to a more advanced stage, developed on a foundation of popular rejection of the U.S.-imposed neoliberal project. Cuba has persisted, and self-proclaimed socialist movements have taken political power in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, while the Sandinistas have returned to power in Nicaragua. Progressive governments arrived to power in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. The progressive and socialist governments developed alternative regional associations, with ALBA being the first, later followed by South American Union of Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The more unified Latin American governments have been pursuing cooperation with other nations of the Third World as well as China and Russia.
The arrival of the Latin American popular anti-imperialist movement to a more advanced stage is a reflection of an erosion of U.S. economic and political control of the region. This erosion is a consequence of the economic and financial decline of the United States, relative to other core nations; and of its considerable loss of “soft power” in the form of international prestige, caused by such factors as the Vietnam War, the imposition of the neoliberal project, and the post-2001 wars of aggression in the Middle East.
The current attack on Venezuela by the Organization of American States is, in part, a reflection of an insurgent Right in Latin America. Beginning in 2014, seeking to take advantage of a decline in Latin American raw materials exports prices and the death of Hugo Chávez, the Right escalated its efforts to bring down the progressive and socialist governments of the region. Using a strategy of economic war and vague political promises, the opposition won the parliamentary elections in Venezuela in December 2015. Since then, the right-wing parliament has been seeking to destabilize the country, possibly seeking to provoke a U.S. intervention. In Argentina, a right-wing candidate narrowly won the presidential elections, using a strategy of vaguely progressive campaign rhetoric. In Brazil, a parliamentary coup d’état ended the democratically elected government. The resurgent Right, now as always, has been supported by the United States, standing against all governments, progressive or socialist, that are seeking to forge autonomous projects of economic and social development, not directed by U.S. interests.
The OAS attack on Venezuela is directed by Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, with the support of the U.S. military. The Argentinian journalist Telma Luzzani has reported on a Pentagon document dated February 25, 2015, in which the chief of the Southern Command outlines a plan to besiege and suffocate the Venezuelan government, provoking a fall of the government, and describing the measures to be taken by a government of transition after the fall of the government of Maduro. And the plan specifically refers to the Secretary General, whose assigned role is to insist on the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Emitted by OAS on September 11, 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, the Charter obligates members of OAS to adopt structures of representative democracy.
In accordance with the plan of the Southern Command, Amargo convoked a session of OAS on March 28, 2017. However, Amargo failed to obtain the approval of OAS members for the application of the Democratic Charter, the expulsion of Venezuela from OAS, or any sanction or action against Venezuela.
The interventionist initiative continues, however, seeking to take advantage of conflicts between the Venezuelan parliament, controlled by the opposition, and the executive and judicial branches, controlled by the socialist chavistas. Accordingly, the governments of ALBA considered necessary the April 10 declaration against the interventionist maneuvers of the OAS and the U.S. Southern Command and in support of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
At the April 10 meeting of the Political Council of ALBA, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro provided an historic overview of the anti-imperialist struggles of the people of Latin America for autonomy and true independence, and he exhorted the peoples to continue the struggle.
Worthy of note are Maduro’s comments with respect to the Trump administration. “In the United States in this moment, there is a new situation, very risky and dangerous, more threatening to the peace of the peoples of the world, a situation of a reconfiguration of power. The principal decision-making organs of the political-industrial-military apparatus of the United States are in this moment in the hands of extremists.”
Maduro tied such control of the U.S. political structures by extremists to the recent renewal of the attack against Venezuela.
The recent diplomatic attack, the recent lineup of a group of failed neoliberal governments of the Right against Venezuela; the recent internal attack of the Venezuelan Right that has taken the road of violence, of the coup d’état, of the assault on power, represent the new extremist currents that direct, govern and make decisions in the United States. Today we can say, we have experienced it, that there is an extremist radicalization of the positions of the Venezuelan Right, on the basis of new orders issued by the Department of State and those who govern in the United States.
See “Discourse pronounced by Nicolás Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at the political-cultural Act of Solidarity,” Havana, Cuba, April 10, 2017.