Venezuela: ALBA poses alternatives

The 7th Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) met April 15-17 in Venezuela. Member nations Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Dominica and Honduras fashioned a declaration aimed at the Summit of the Americas, already gathering in Trinidad and Tobago.

The alliance condemned capitalist solutions rendering a majority on the planet jobless, hungry and vulnerable to climate change. It denounced Cuba’s exclusion from the Organization of American States and both the U.S. blockade and Cuban Adjustment Act.

ALBA called for cultural diversity, recognition of migration as a human right, and “peace based on social justice, not on imperialist politics and wars.” Plans were announced to create the Sucre, a “virtual currency” aimed at freeing regional commerce from dollar dependence.

Ecuador’s foreign minister and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo attended as guests. Urging “reparations” for U.S.-imposed suffering, Lugo commended “the grand solidarity Cuba has shown us over a half-century.” Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became the seventh ALBA nation.

Greece: Labor faces repression

The rightwing “New Democracy” government last month imposed new security measures. They included a special police unit for “coordination,” Scotland Yard advisers, added surveillance equipment and penalties for insults against on-duty state officials and for hoods worn during protests.

Inter Press Service said the measures were in response to a general strike that closed down public services April 2 — a repeat of one in December after police killed a teenage protester. With support from leftist political parties including the Greek Communists, the General Confederation of Greek Workers and public employee unionists, the strike was called to protest new taxes and a public worker salary freeze.

The European Commission recently ordered Greece’s deficit to be brought below 3 percent.

Japan: Parliament OKs base treaty

Japan’s House of Representatives, April 14, approved a 2006 treaty calling for that country to pay $2.8 billion to relocate 8,000 U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam, and build a new base there.

Parliamentary critics had protested the expected arrival of U.S. troop replacements in Okinawa. They also inveighed against U.S. demands that Japan supply $3.5 billion for building a new U.S. base in Nago, Okinawa. Opponents claimed Japan was having to pay for the release of land illegally seized to build bases in 1951. Japan Press Service quoted Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo as telling reporters the treaty is “a humiliating agreement, which has no parallel in any other country.”

Iraq: Foreign firms deal for oil

The Iraqi Oil Ministry last week indicated nine companies from eight countries — the United States not included — had signed service contracts to develop 11 oil fields jointly with state oil companies.

Working with two Chinese oil companies, special case Royal Dutch Shell is negotiating a joint venture with Iraqi companies to extract oil from Kurdish controlled areas near Kirkuk.

The government is now offering 20-year service and investment contracts after two-year deals had failed to entice oil companies. In Iraq, possessing the world’s third largest reserves, 65 of 80 oil fields are undeveloped. Oil exports provide 95 percent of the government’s revenue, the UK Independent reports.

Cuba: Prisoner exchange to free the Five

Raul Castro asked at the ALBA summit, “Why don’t they release our five heroes that posed no danger to the United States?” Once more the Cuban president was suggesting freedom for the Cuban Five in exchange for Cuba releasing and sending to the U.S. government opponents jailed for taking U.S. moneys. Convicted Guatemalan and Salvadoran mercenary terrorists were added to the package, the Granma newspaper said.

Observers recall that President Carter liberated jailed Puerto Rican independence fighters to secure the release of CIA operatives from Cuban prisons.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (