Cuban President Fidel Castro, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales have met recently in Havana, capital of Cuba and signed the People's Trade Protocol.
According to the protocol, the three countries will take specific measures to push forward the integration process. They will also make a strategic plan of maximizing mutual complementary sectors and promoting development in each country on the basis of rationally and sufficiently utilize their advantages and resources, expand employment and strengthen unity. The protocol aroused a lot of attention against the background that the political situation and US-Latin American relations are changing.
Yuan Dongzhen, a research fellow from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences comments in his article published on People's Daily that the protocol is a political agreement among the three countries to strengthen unity and mutual support. It is also a cooperation agreement in economy and trade, health and education, culture, energy, economic aid, science and technology, investment and establishment of joint ventures.
The article analyses that the protocol reflects new changes in Latin American political arena. After 20 years of neo-liberal reform which hasn't solved the poverty and equity problems concerned by the people, traditional parties have lost trust from the people and some central-left political wings came to power. People hope they can correct the neo-liberal policies and solve the problems. Thus, it is an important effort that the left-wing governments in Latin America have made in order to strengthen unity and jointly solve problems in the development process.
The protocol also strengthened the force of anti-American Free Trade Zone which was advocated by the US. American free trade zone has been criticized and questioned by Latin American left wingers. As early as April, 2005, Cuba and Venezuela signed a protocol of Bolivarian replacing program. The program was launched as a replacement of American Free Trade Zone. The two countries expressed that they will jointly push the implementation of the program and expand cooperation with other Latin American countries in order to resist the American influence in these areas, hoping it will be a good model for the whole region. Meanwhile, Bolivia also joined the American Bolivarian replacing program to strengthen it.
The article hails the protocol as a new exploration of development road in Latin America and a reflection of the people's will of getting rid of the troubles brought about by globalization. American Free Trade Zone or Free Trade Protocol aims to reduce or eliminate tariffs and liberalize commodities, service and investment. The People's Trade Protocol is different. In addition to lower and eliminate tariffs, it also puts up forward the idea of establishing a strategic plan to pay more attention to health, education, financial service and people's lives. Promoting social development and guaranteeing food security and environment protection, alleviating poverty and eliminating inequity are the main goals.
The protocol will greatly promote the unity of these countries. But it also faces a lot of difficulties and challenges. Bolivarian replacement program and the People's Trade Protocol have already got some criticisms from the public in Venezuela and Bolivia.
Latin American countries cannot agree with each other on the US Free Trade Zone issue. Many countries have contradiction with the US in establishing the free trade zone. But a lot of people still think of holding dialogue with the US and taking establishment of the free trade zone as a strategic option. Therefore, the article predicts that it will be hard for these countries to implement the replacing program and the People's Trade Protocol within a short period of time.
By People's Daily Online