MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has arrived in Havana for an emergency meeting of ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), a joint-initiative spearheaded by Cuba and Venezuela. There, he commented on the importance of coordinating a standard response to the virus, and the efforts that Latin American countries have taken so far to do so.
Maduro said the summit aims “to set out the conclusions and proposals for action protocols to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean”, based on the advice of experts from the United Nations and World Health Organization who will also attend the meeting.
ALBA was founded in 2004 on the basis of an agreement between Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. It has since grown to comprise nine member states from Latin America and the Caribbean, and describes itself as a “political, economic, and social alliance in defense of independence, self-determination and the identity of peoples comprising it.” The countries mostly consist of those that share the Venezuelan government’s Bolivarian socialist ideology, and include Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, as well as the smaller Caribbean nations of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia.
The president also commented that “ALBA is leading the way on an issue that is of concern and alarming the global public,” and detailed his intention during the summit to propose an emergency meeting of all members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which itself has 33 members and is the main coordinating organization in the region.
Also remarking on the actions of the Cuban government in contributing to the fight against Ebola, Maduro said that “We must recognize that the only country in our continent that has sent a delegation of 165 health professionals to Sierra Leone is Cuba. Cuba is a leading nation in humanism, solidarity, and human support to the people of world,” and represents “the ideal place for this meeting”.
Prior to this summit, Venezuela had also announced a USD 5 million contribution to the United Nations fund for research on the Ebola virus, which the World Health Organization estimates to have claimed the lives of more than 4,000 people. The WHO expects vaccines against the virus, which has a fatality rate of ranging from 25% to 90%, to be ready for testing in March 2015.