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CARACAS, Monday February 06, 2012 | Update
 
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Diplomacy

ALBA summit ends with entry of guest countries

Suriname and St. Lucia also intend to join Petrocaribe, an energy integration scheme

The presidents of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) condemned a "systematic interference policy to destabilize" Syria (Photo: Efe)
EL UNIVERSAL
Monday February 06, 2012  01:00 PM


The presidents of the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) ended on Sunday their 11th Summit by approving the accession of Suriname and St. Lucia, and confirmed Haiti as an observer.

The presidents and heads of state ended on Sunday the meeting held in the Miraflores Palace, the official seat of the Executive branch of government in Venezuela. The ALBA leaders signed on Saturday a declaration to back Argentina in its dispute with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas Islands). At the closing session of the Summit, the group also adopted a statement to support the Syrian government against "the interference" of foreign powers.

Bolivia's President Evo Morales proposed the creation of an ALBA Defense Council to establish a new doctrine for the armed forces, "to make the military serve the interests of the peoples rather than the (U.S.) empire's."

"The Armed Forces should never allow foreign military bases in our countries," he said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez welcomed the proposal and instructed the Political Council to assess it and prepare a report.

The ALBA presidents also approved the accession of Suriname and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia as special guest members, as a prior step to their full entry. They also confirmed Haiti as an ALBA observer.

So far, ALBA comprises Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bolivia, Ecuador and Antigua and Barbuda.

Suriname and St. Lucia also intend join Petrocaribe, an energy integration scheme.

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Let us start by looking at what appears to be a discrepancy in figures. According to official statistics, the number of Venezuelans contracting HIV/AIDS every year amounts to 11,699; and as per Ministry of Health figures 43,805 people receive free antiretroviral medications.  But Jhonatan Rodríguez, the president of ONG StopVIH, claims that these figures date back to March 2012, and that they are quoted as current figures.

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