With this statement and the flourishing of their pens, on December 14, 2004 Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro signed into life a bold new integration mechanism for Latin-America and the Caribbean. Thus began the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), “...a geopolitical, geo-economic, social, cultural and ideological organization.” Initially a reaction to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, a Clinton era plan for a hemispheric wide trade pact, the ALBA was founded to serve as a geopolitical counterweight to the United States.
As the ALBA takes shape, its core principles are becoming clear. It is a statist agreement meant to facilitate government-to-government interaction based upon the principles of solidarity, cooperation, fair trade, fight against poverty and social ills, and the joint development of member countries. The proposal seeks to open room for government intervention, allowing the state to move beyond regulation and arbitration into the direct delivery of “social justice” to the majority poor of their countries.