This article was taken from The Sun Newspaper published on Monday March 3rd, 2008.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Thursday night answered critics of Dominicaâ€™s entry in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) by saying that â€œthere is no devil in ALBAâ€. In an address to the nation in which he outlined some of his administrationâ€™s achievements and plans, Prime Minister Skerrit said ALBA is one of the countryâ€™s proactive foreign policy initiatives.
We said more that once that we would pursue a foreign policy that is proactive. We would not be content with what we had-with old relationships; with traditional level of support.
He added that ALBA is an initiative of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez to promote closes cooperation between Latin America and the Caribbean.
It is motivated in part by the failure to date to make progress with long-mooted Free Trade Area of the Americas. It is also motivated by the view that the intended structure of the proposed FTAA, dominated as it would be by the USA, would not be based on equity of status among all the member of the grouping, and therefore not in the best interest of itâ€™s developing country members. ALBA is not one single agreement but a constellation of separate agreements between and among countries.
He said the agreement is based on the principles of complementarity, solidarity, cooperation and respect for the sovereignty of people.
Saying that there is no hidden agenda in ALBA, Skerrit said the agreement reinforces previous undertakings such as PretroCaribe, Melville Hall Airport expansion, housing construction and the eye care programme. The agreement, he said, creates the conditions for the establishment of fair trade, gives special treatment to exports of products and recognizes the production inequalities of our countries.
The Prime Minister brushed aside the contention that ALBA may also be a military alliance as stated by President Chavez himself. In June 2007 the Venezuelan president is reported by the Associated Press to have urged Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, members of ALBA before Dominica joined in January, to create a common defense pact. He said ALBA nation should become more independent of the United States. Again in January 2008, Chavez, on his television programme Alo Presidente, urged ALBA to work to form a joint defense strategy.
because the enemy is the same-the empire. Anybody who messes with one of will have to mess with all of us because we will respond as one.
But in his address on Thursday Prime Minister Skerrit reassured the nation that his government has not and will enter into a military alliance against any country.
The usual mischief makes have told you all sorts of things about ALBA. They have even told you the ludicrous nonsense that your country may be part of a military Alliance against the United States of America. The people of our country have everything to gain from their participation in ALBA and nothing to fear.
He said Trade Minister Collin McIntyre has appraised CARICOM of Dominicaâ€™s commitment to ALBA, adding that Dominica remains committed to CARICOM and the OCES treaties. Skerrit said ALBA development bank holds great promise for Dominica, because it based on new principles of channeling funds to its members. He said that unlike other traditional funding institutions funds from the ALBA bank will not come with conditions.
ALBA is working on a number of far-reaching cooperation proposals from which our country can expect to receive significant benefit. These include a continental literacy plan; a Latin America plan for free health care; an education scholarship programme; a social emergency fund; a development bank of the south; a regional petroleum company; a regional television station and many other. Skerrit Said.