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Saturday, 19th April 2014

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Africa-South America summit cements South-South collaboration

Creating a new Radio of the South, formalising the Bank of the South, criticising the make-up of the UN Security Council, and supporting Honduran President Manuel Zelaya were among the outcomes at the second Africa-South American Summit (ASA) that was held last weekend on Margarita Island, Venezuela.

Heads of state from 61 countries, 49 from Africa and 12 from South America, participated in the summit, with the theme of "Closing gaps, opening up opportunities."

Radio of the South

The Summit launched the Radio of the South, a network of radio stations driven by Venezuelan National Radio (RNV), which, as it says in its mission statement, aims to bring the revolutionary struggles of the people of the South to the forefront, and to promote the union of peoples of the South through information exchange and cross-national collaboration.

Initially the radio network will reach 40% of Venezuela, as well as integrating 18 radio stations in Argentina, 10 in Colombia, 4 in Bolivia, 4 in Honduras and Uruguay, 3 in Panama, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S, 2 in Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, and Haiti, and 1 in Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Chile, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea.

A team of translators in Caracas will bring the programming to Gambia Radio, whose news will also be translated into Spanish. A similar exchange will be carried out with Radio Benin and Algeria's International Radio.

Programming will include 35% Venezuelan and Latin American music, and Radio of the South studios in Caracas will produce a third of the programming, while the rest will be produced by allied radios across America and Africa. The radio can also be listened to live on the internet.

Bank of the South

During the Summit on Saturday, the heads of state of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela signed a document to form the Bank of the South, which will have a starting capital of US$20 billion. Venezuela will contribute $4 billion, as will Brazil and Argentina, with other countries also contributing according to their capacity.

"It will be our bank, to bring back the reserves that we have up there in north that they use to give credits to us," Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said.

"The transfer of resources from the South to the North is a tremendous figure and they lend that money back to us with interest rates far superior to what they pay us...but we're not stupid, we are waking up and they won't keep manipulating us with this tale of the ‘free market,'" Chavez said.

The constituting agreement says the bank will have its headquarters in Caracas and offices in Buenos Aires and La Paz. It will only lend to member countries and can lend to a range of organisations, including private companies, cooperatives, and state organisations, but taking into consideration the extent to which they generate food, energy, health, natural resources or knowledge sovereignty. It will also encourage development projects.

"The bank of the south is strategic... I think we should go even further and gradually put together our own South-South financial system," Chavez said, adding that in the future, "We have to create...a South-South bank or the Bank of ASA, Banasa."

For a fairer UN Security Council

In order to achieve more "balance," the ASA conference called for a reformation of the UN Security Council, in which 5 countries (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US) are permanent members and have veto power.

In a document passed by the summit, the ASA countries stated the need for "a greater participation of developing countries in South America and Africa...in order to correct the current imbalance and make this Council a more democratic, transparent, representative, effective and legitimate organisation that responds to the new political realities."

The document continued, "We praise the efforts carried out in the inter-governmental negotiations on this issue, in conformity with decision 62/55 of the General Assembly of the UN."

Honduras

Regarding the recent coup in June in Honduras and the return of legitimate president Manuel Zelaya to the country on 21 September, when he sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy, Brazil proposed a declaration on Honduras to ASA, which was approved unanimously.

The Declaration condemned the coup of 28 June and demanded the immediate and unconditional return of Zelaya to his position as president and that the Honduran coup regime comply with the Vienna Convention regarding the inviolability of diplomatic missions.

"The heads of state of South America and Africa meeting on Margarita Island on 26 and 27 September express their deep concern for the current political situation in Honduras," the declaration said.

Venezuela's participation

Chavez proposed, and the summit approved, a proposal that Venezuela take on the responsibility of organising the ASA secretariat from now on. The secretariat would meet on Margarita Island and would ensure implementation of the plans and projects coming out of the summit.

Chavez said that in order to turn "ideas into projects" he should be permitted to head up the secretariat, and that what were previously working groups could be turned into presidential commissions.

During the summit, Venezuela also signed notes of understanding for the formation of joint mining ventures with Sierra Leone, Mali, Namibia, Niger, and Mauritania. Chavez announced that he had signed an agreement of cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to assist with the battle against hunger in Africa by providing seeds, fertiliser, and other farming technology.

"[ASA] is a vital mechanism, it's the union of South America with Africa... We'll prove that we are a big power and that the union of these two powers, South America and Africa, will contribute to what [Simon] Bolivar said, the equilibrium of the world," Chavez said.

 

This article was first published by Venezuelanalysis