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Cablegate: Not Much Substance at the Vi Alba Summit

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R 301844Z JAN 08
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD ENRG EINV VE
SUBJECT: NOT MUCH SUBSTANCE AT THE VI ALBA SUMMIT

1. (U) SUMMARY: Venezuela hosted the VI Bolivarian
Alternative for the Peoples of our Americas (ALBA) summit
January 24-26, 2008 in Caracas. While little substantive
occurred at the summit, it provided Hugo Chavez a platform to
rail against capitalism and the United States. Three of the
four ALBA nations: Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, were
represented by their respective heads of state. Vice
President Carlos Lage represented Cuba. Summit milestones
included the inauguration of the Bank of ALBA and the
proposal for the Grand National Energy Company of ALBA. In
addition the small island nation of Dominica, represented by
it's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, became a full member.
Honduras, Ecuador, Uruguay, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint
Vincent and the Grenadines sent observers. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------------
Pulpit to Criticize the United States
-------------------------------------

2. (U) ALBA, created in 2004, is Chavez' vision of an
alternative to the U.S. backed proposed Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA) and other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
During the VI ALBA summit, Chavez stated that ALBA was an
alternative "to form a new world...to save the human specie
from the threats of capitalism." On Sunday, 27 January, the
day after the ALBA summit concluded, Chavez, during his
broadcast of "Alo Presidente" stated "many countries want to
join ALBA but the empire (the United States) will not let
them."

------------
Bank of ALBA
------------

3. (U) On January 26 in Caracas ALBA's four member states
inaugurated the Bank of ALBA (BOA). Venezuelan Finance
Minister, Rafael Isea told the official Venezuelan News
Agency (ABN) "the goal of the bank is not to accumulate
wealth but to promote development within Latin American
countries and the Caribbean....the bank should serve the high
interests of our people and not the high financial
interests." Initial proposed capital of the Bank of ALBA
will be USD one billion. The Cuban Vice President was quoted
by ABN that the BOA will "function as a bank under the
principles of ALBA: complementariness, not competition and
the priority of man over markets." BOA's headquarters is an
11 story building located in Caracas which is scheduled to be
fully equipped and staffed in February.

-------------------------------------
Trans National Energy Company of ALBA
-------------------------------------

4. (U) Chavez announced during the ALBA summit a plan to
incorporate the first Trans National Energy Company of ALBA.
This proposal, framed within the ALBA Energy Security Treaty,
is designed to ensure the stable supply of petroleum products
to the peoples of the region for the next century. An
agreement is scheduled to be completed within 90 days. The
agreement will include exploration and exploitation of a
crude oil block in the "Faja" of the Orinoco region.
According to ABN the proven reserves in the block are
approximately ten billion barrels of oil.

5. (U) Additional summit highlights included:
A joint political declaration denouncing the warmongering
attitude of the United States Government and its attacks
against Latin American governments;
A "security and food sovereignty treaty";
Honduras signing an agreement with Venezuela and is now a
full member of Petrocaribe.
Cuba and Venezuela signing an agreement for the construction
of a submarine communications cable;
The induction of the Commonwealth of Dominica into ALBA.

6. Comment: (SBU) The VI ALBA summit essentially provided a
venue for Hugo Chavez to rant against the United States and
capitalism. It is interesting to note that Venezuela's two
largest trading partners, after the United States, Colombia
and Brazil are not members of ALBA and did not attend the
summit. End Comment.

DUDDY

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