Ortega leads anti-U.S. critique at Latin American food summit
Leaders at Wednesday's summit in Nicaragua blamed US trade policies for the region's food crisis.
(Page 2 of 2)
"There was confidence that globalization would resolve our energy and food problems, but they have made them worse," Mr. Zelaya said. "Now we have less production in our countries and more emigration by those seeking the American dream."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Zelaya urged the governments of Central America to take a more active role in their countries' economic development and called for a revival of the "agrarian reform" policies of the 1980s, in an apparent nod to the first Sandinista government's land redistribution programs.
Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, also blamed the US for his country's fisheries-based food crisis. Mr. Gonsalves said that US-produced global warming has increased the ocean's temperature and driven the fish to deeper waters, where they are harder to net by island fishermen. Plus, he said, hurricanes and tropical storms, which wreak havoc on lobster and shrimp populations on sea beds, are also a result of global warming caused by US pollution.
Even Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who ultimately refused to sign the ALBA-sympathizing resolution, couldn't help but voice his own criticism of the US when it was his turn at the microphone.
"This is the wrong action because their values are wrong," Mr. Arias said of the US offer to help.
In total, 12 countries signed on to the final summit resolution, which, among other things, pledges Venezuela to provide $100 million in agricultural assistance from the so-called Bank of ALBA. Signatories included Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and the Dominican Republic.
Costa Rica's Arias, meanwhile, said he would withhold his signature over ideological concerns that the interests of ALBA would conflict with his country's commitment to free trade and economic cooperation with the US. Costa Rica recently ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
"There are some value judgments, concepts that I don't agree with," Arias said.
Yet despite Costa Rica's and El Salvador's hesitation, both are expected to join the other 12 signatory countries in the follow-up meeting scheduled for later this month in Mexico, where the ALBA nations will again push for regional integration to confront US influence in the hemisphere.