Cuba in a Global Context: International Relations, Internationalism, and Transnationalism

By Catherine Krull | Go to book overview

7
The Cuba-Venezuela Alliance and Its Continental Impact

MAX AZICRI

For more than ten years now—since at least 1999—Cuba and Venezuela have worked together to establish a remarkable partnership based on mutual reinforcement of sociopolitical forces and historical, ideological, and personal friendship factors cemented by geographical proximity. Although the Cuban socialist regime and the Venezuelan Bolivarian process remain systemically and structurally different,1 the two countries have placed a claim to the Bolivarian ideal of a united Latin America free of U.S. dominance.

This closely knit partnership has had a significant domestic effect—recognizing their capacity to help each other, the countries exchange goods and services in a collaborative fashion2—which has been matched by a widely felt continental impact. In addition to being a source of vital resources and services to both countries, the partnership has promoted Latin American unity and other long-held objectives. ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of the Americas (changed in 2009 to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas)—the brainchild of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez—has been instrumental in pursuing such goals.

Since Cuba and Venezuela founded ALBA in 2004, several other countries have joined. These include Bolivia (2006), Nicaragua (2007), and Dominica and Honduras (2008) (after the 2009 coup ousting President Manuel Zelaya, the right-wing government of Honduras withdrew its membership), Ecuador, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda (2009). In 2012 Suriname and St. Lucia were admitted as “guest countries.” Havana and Caracas took up outreach initiatives through ALBA and other programs, and those projects continue today despite the depressed financial conditions caused by the world economic crisis of 2008–9. Relationships with Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Mercosur (Common Market of the South) offer prime examples of the connections being fashioned.

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