“Here are the loyalists”, said Nicolás Maduro to the three presidents who attended the ALBA Summit in Venezuela, in a show of support for the South American dictatorship.
The regional alliance had greater clout when Venezuela was able to contribute financially, but now it seems that those who remain are there to thank Chávez for his famous generosity to regional allies. It is a marginalized group led by communists who want to perpetuate themselves in power.
But of the twelve governments that make up the ALBA, only three presidents traveled to Venezuela. Ecuador, for example, sent its defense minister, and San Vicent the son of the prime minister. The rest of the members sent their foreign ministers or delegates.
The presidents of Cuba, Raúl Castro; Bolivia, Evo Morales, and Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, arrived in Caracas to participate in the event with the intention of continuing to support the Venezuelan dictatorship and to push for Maduro’s inclusion at the Summit of the Americas in Lima.
ALBA Influence in Decline
The ALBA Summit has become a socialist club, led by Cuba and Venezuela; two countries mired in misery.
The organization, founded in 2004 with the supposed objective of fighting against poverty and social exclusion, is today a far-left organization. As they meet in support of dictatorships, they expose themselves are regimes that are marginalized by the majority of democratic countries in the world.
The PanAm Post interviewed political scientist María Teresa Romero, who suggested that the recent ALBA meeting hurt Nicolás Maduro by showing his increasing isolatation.
“It is a group of countries that have fallen into disrepair, and that have not fulfilled the reasons for which they formed ALBA. The ALBA did not go beyond being a political group,” she said.
For Romero, the group acquired “some importance” when Venezuela supported members economically. However, the few countries that remain in Venezuela’s corner now are only there to thank the oil-rich nation for the monetary support.
“The truth is that for most of the governments around the world, ALBA constitutes a ridiculous attempt of a marginal group led by communists trying to stay in power. It is nothing but a group of emperors with no clothes.”
“The ALBA no longer has the same strength or influence, and some of its members no longer wish to be associated with it,” Romero said in relation to Ecuador, which is drawing farther away from Maduro every day.
Other political analysts told the PanAm Post that the ALBAis not even worth talking about because it is a group that carries no weight internationally.
Reputation on the ground
Local media has reported that these countries will now make up supposedly unfair “diplomatic and political measures” against the nations of the Lima Group as retaliation for preventing Maduro’s participation in the Summit of the Americas. However, it is hard to believe that governments like Ecuador’s will be willing to go to bat for the Venezuelan dictatorship.
The Lima Group, formed in 2017 to establish a “peaceful exit” to the crisis in Venezuela, includes the participation of 16 democratic countries. Meanwhile, the European Union and the United States have implemented sanctions for the violation of human rights in the chavista-led country.
The group of nations that compose ALBA, on the other hand, are calling into question their credibility and their human rights record:
The Government of Raúl Castro is Maduro’s main ally. As is public knowledge, it is a dictatorship, which has long maintained its military influence over Venezuela.
Castro is nothing more than a dictator who seeks to perpetuate himself in power and keep the people in poverty. On the island, there are simply no independent political institutions, and civil liberties do not exist.
Inside the ALBA, it is the main example of a “socialist and Communist” country; one that only maintains its influence in allied countries, and that remains afloat thanks to nations like Russia.
President Evo Morales is a faithful ally of chavismo. He has not hesitated to show his penchant for socialism and has shown that he seeks not only to cling indefinitely to power but to finish the mission of establishing a dictatorship in Bolivia.
The most recent demonstration that Morales has learned lessons from Maduro, Chávez and Fidel Castro, is his decision to run in the next presidential elections despite being prohibited by the Constitution, and despite the fact that the majority of the Bolivian people rejected his candidacy in a referendum. But as is the case with his socialist allies, the president has the backing of the judicial branch, which issues favorable rulings.
Morales has also followed the path of Venezuela in international drug trafficking to such an extent that his government has been identified as one that allows drug trafficking in its territory.
Within international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS), Bolivia has become a faithful defender of the Maduro dictatorship.
Daniel Ortega is another key member of ALBA, who has also been described as a dictator.
Ortega has organized and endorsed electoral fraud and for trying–as Maduro and Evo Morales have done–to maintain his grip on power.
The president of Nicaragua has total control over the state; he also controls the Comptroller’s Office, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Police, and the Army.
Since coming to power, Ortega reformed the Constitution to allow indefinite re-elections, just as Hugo Chávez did. He eliminated, like Maduro with the opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the legal representation of the only opposition force capable of mounting a challenge.
Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent are small countries that also belong to ALBA.
They are nations that do not have major international influence and economies with little growth; for this reason, both Cuba and Venezuela have decided to prop-up these governments economically in order to win their support in international organizations.
However, some of these small countries have begun to distance themselves from the Venezuelan dictatorship. For example, Antigua and Barbuda did not show up during a recent OAS session held to consider penalizing the Maduro regime, while St. Kitts and Nevis simply abstained in the same session. This indicates that little by little these islands are distancing themselves from Maduro’s diplomatic orbit.