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PM GONSALVES URGES GREATER LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN INTEGRATION

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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, second left, and other delegates at the meeting on November 8 in Nicaragua.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has urged Latin American and Caribbean countries to accelerate the regional integration process amidst the region’s evolving geo-political space.

Dr. Gonsalves reiterated this call while addressing foreign ministers and representatives of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA) in Managua, Nicaragua on November 8.

ALBA representatives met in Managua for the 17th Meeting of the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America — Treaty of Trade of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) to discuss geopolitical issues among the nine-member grouping.

The Council reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening solidarity among member countries, while urging governments within the region to consolidate advances in the progress towards integration.

Dr. Gonsalves said the region must work in a coordinated manner to address several issues relating to trade, the movement of people and climate change.

He told delegates that ALBA must focus on specific programmatic elements that are people-centred in order to advance the regional integration process.

“I want to reaffirm the point that ALBA is more relevant (now) than ever and we have to strengthen the people-to-people connection within Latin America and the Caribbean by linking and uniting our peoples,” Dr. Gonsalves said.

In his support for a stronger push towards deepening the integration process, Dr. Gonsalves noted that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has no visa requirements for ALBA member countries and urged other countries to examine visa restrictions within the regional bloc.

Among the representatives of the ALBA-TCP were the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arriaza, his Bolivian counterpart, Diego Pary Rodríguez, Foreign Minister of El Salvador Carlos Castaneda, Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno as well as delegates from, Dominica, St. Kitts, and Antigua and Barbuda.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA) was created on Dec. 14, 2004 in Havana through a constitutive treaty signed between Cuba and Venezuela, which was later joined by Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

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