Non-Aligned Movement has laid great emphasis on South-South Cooperation. The Non-Aligned Movement realizes the tremendous potential of regional cooperation among developing countries and since its inception has stressed the importance and need for the same. The leaders of NAM have underscored that regional and sub-regional arrangements and agencies, composed of Non-Aligned and other developing countries are important for promotion of regional peace and security as well as economic and social development through cooperation among countries in the region. Thus, the movement takes cognizance of the importance of synergy between regional and sub-regional initiatives to ensure complementarity and the added value of each process towards their common goals, such as political stability, economic growth, and social and cultural development. NAM Member Countries all over the world have realized that South- South Cooperation reflects the principles of solidarity and mutual benefit and as such have made arrangements and devised mechanisms for effective regional co-operation.
ALBA is one such successful example of a South-South regional cooperation initiative undertaken in the financial and economic field by some countries of Latin America region. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) was founded on the 14th of December 2004 when presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba signed protocols bringing the agreement into existence. In its own terms the ALBA is defined as an “integration platform” whose fundamental purpose is to achieve “integral development” for Latin America and the Caribbean through a process of integration. ALBA professes to be a “political, economic, and social alliance in defence of independence, self-determination and the identity of peoples comprising it”. Today, ALBA has grown to include eleven full member states which, in order of joining, are: Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada and the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
ALBA has made significant strides through regional cooperation in sectors such education, literacy as well as healthcare. In the field of education and literacy, using the “Yes I Can” teaching method designed by Cuba, a total of 3,815,092 people have become literate in the region through ALBA supported programs by 2014. UNESCO has declared ALBA members Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as “Illiteracy-Free Territories”. ALBA members have also successfully cooperated in the field of healthcare. In the healthcare sector, the Miracle Mission – a social program aimed providing sight-saving surgery, free of charge, for people with little economic resources suffering from blindness or correctable visual deficiency – has been a great success.
The social mission provides consultation and general pediatric ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology, as well as low vision and retina treatment among others that are available in all regions with highly trained professionals who are willing to serve people in need. The project was created by the former Cuban president, Fidel Castro and developed by the former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. Through the Miracle Mission, more than 3 million people have undergone surgery to have their eyesight improved or recovered at no cost.
ALBA has also achieved successful economic cooperation through initiatives such as Bank of the ALBA, the Common Reserve Fund, the Common Account Unit, and the use of the SUCRE as a currency unit.
On March 6, 2017, at the opening of the 14th Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Trade Treaty of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) summit at Caracas, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro called for creating sound economic foundations geared towards the welfare of the people. Maduro remarked: ‘The great challenge of this generation and the coming generation will be to have the same capacity of achievement, construction and success in building a productive model that will give us independence and a solid base of wealth in order to maintain the investment and development of our societies”.
Since its inception, ALBA has thus worked to strengthen Latin American political and economic unity, promote the political vision of the Bolivarian Revolution, combat poverty and illiteracy, and promote and protect the rights of Indigenous nations and people with disabilities. It is one of the most successful examples of South-South cooperation.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor