Caribbean leaders among those gathered in Bolivia

BY CMC
Originally published: October 17, 2009 05:27:00 PM

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia, CMC – The Prime Ministers of the three Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that are part of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) have joined fellow leaders involved in the Venezuela-led initiative for two days of talks here.

Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ralph Gonsalves are taking part in the Seventh ALBA Summit that marks the fifth anniversary of the integration movement spearheaded by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.

According to the Summit’s agenda, the leaders and representatives of member states will analyse the issue of the expansion of United States military bases in Colombia, and issue a statement on the political crisis unleashed in Honduras.

Media reports also said the Antiguan, Dominican and Vincentian leaders will work along with representatives from Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras to create an arbitration court, to substitute the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of the World Bank.

They will also debate “just trade” to foster the Peoples’ Trade Agreements and Free Trade Agreements, the reports said.

Although the meeting is expected to approve a single currency for the grouping – Regional Single Compensation System (SUCRE) – for trade exchange, it is not anticipated that any of the CARICOM leaders will sign their country onto the new currency.

All three are already involved in a single currency for the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Prime Minister Gonsalves has previously said he would not take Kingstown the route of the SUCRE.

A delegation from Haiti is among those attending the meeting as observers.

ALBA was created by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004, as an alternative proposal to the US-boosted free trade agreement in the region, and strengthens alliance among similar nations.

Source: CMC

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