Monday, October 19, 2009

ALBA Member States Plan New Currency

Jesse's Café Américain
Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is not the first time ALBA, Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas, has discussed plans for a regional currency, and the proposal does not yet seem to be concrete to us. The countries have agreed in principle to proceed, with the details to be worked out over the next year.

Nevertheless, it does start to chip away at Wall Street's usual answer to any dollar challenge, "Where else will they put their reserves, what else will they use for trade if not the US Dollar?" This has always seemed to be among the most arrogant, self-centered observations of an empire in recorded history. "Without us, who will tell them what to do, who will lead them, who will manage their money?" Were even the British at the turn of the 19th century that self-deluded, so blinded by the rationale of the white man's burden to manage other people's affairs?

Ecuador’s currency was called the sucre before it shifted to the US dollar nearly a decade ago. Jose Antonio de Sucre was an early 19th century South American Independence leader who fought alongside Simon Bolivar. Sucre is also the capital of Bolivia.

In this proposal, it is known as the Sistema Único de Compensación Regional (SUCRE), a new currency for intra-regional trade, to replace the US dollar in trade among several countries: Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent and Antigua and Barbuda.

Most of these countries have already withdrawn their participation with the World Bank, and it's Center for International Trade disputes, which had sought to arbitrate disagreements among the countries and several western energy firms.

This may be important because Venezuela is a major source of oil imports to the US market. Will Chavez start demanding payment for his oil in the SUCRE? Will the US begin to discover the nuclear threat from Venezuela? Or merely encourage its neighbors and internal groups to challenge its sovereignty?

The exact composition of the SUCRE has not yet been disclosed, if it has been decided. Until that happens, and a firm timeline is disclosed, this is merely a proposal that has been discussed before.

The proposed sucre does not affect any discussions (if any are still continuing) with regard to the amero, which as we understand it is a potential North American regional currency amongst Mexico, the US, and Canada. If we were Canadian, we would resist that proposal with all the resources at our disposal.

But make no mistake, there are alternatives to the dollar and they are being discussed around the world. A broader based alternative that would include China and Russia among others would have more 'teeth.' Some composition including gold and silver backing of some sort, if it is sufficiently revalued higher, would give any regional currency a greater international acceptability.

It made an impression, by the way, that this news story was first picked up here out of China, and not from any US mainstream news outlets.

And speaking of strategic moves, the US recently sought to obtain seven military bases in Colombia, strategically located in the midst of the ALBA countries.

For further reading:
"New ALBA Trading Currency Dawns at Bolivia Summit", Carin Zissis, October 16, 2009
"Pacha, a new currency of Latin American countries to replace dollar", Ecommerce Journal, October 16, 2009
"International Financial Crisis and End of the Dollar Hegemony: USA versus ALBA", Jutta Schmitt, September 19, 2009
"The Case for the Amero: The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union", Herbert Grubel , Fraser Institute, 1999

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