Chávez hosts Africa-South America Summit
Oct 12, 2009
A summit of African and South American leaders convened on the
Venezuelan-Caribbean island of Margarita Sept. 26-27. The gathering was a
follow-up to the first Africa-South America Summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, in
Heads of state representing 61 countries—49 from Africa and 12 from
South America—participated under the theme of “closing gaps,
opening up opportunities” and pledged to continue their cooperation in
the political, economic, sports, technological and cultural spheres.
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela welcomed the group, saying,
“This is the beginning of the salvation of our people.” Chávez
emphasized that the summit will help break the dependence of countries of the
South on the industrialized capitalist states.
“The 21st century won’t be a bipolar world. It won’t be
unipolar. It will be multipolar. Africa will be an important geographic,
economic and social pole. And South America will be, too,” Chávez
said. (Reuters, Sept. 27)
Libyan leader and chair of the African Union, Muammar Gaddafi, also spoke to
the need for greater cooperation among developing regions. He echoed his
comments made to the U.N. General Assembly demanding that Africa, Latin America
and other geopolitical regions be given permanent seats on the Security
“The world isn’t the five countries on the U.N. Security
Council,” Gaddafi said. “The world’s powers want to continue
to hold on to their power. When they had a chance to help us, they treated us
like animals, destroying our land. Now we have to fight to build our own
From political power to economic liberation
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe stressed that political independence
without economic power can potentially breed conflict, both domestic and
international. Mugabe traced the history of British colonialism in Zimbabwe and
the significance of the land reform process begun in 2000.
British farmers—heirs to the colonial system that took over in the
late 19th century and ousted Africans from their homes—had controlled the
best land in Zimbabwe. After Zimbabwe took this land back, the Western
capitalist states imposed economic sanctions against the ZANU-PF government.
Recently, the ruling ZANU-PF party formed an inclusive government with
opposition MDC factions, yet the imperialists have maintained their
“Political freedom or political power is absolutely hollow without the
input of economic power, and economic power derives naturally from your natural
resources. ... [I]t is here that our liberation struggle, perhaps, did not go
to fruition ... because we left the very [colonizing] countries with their very
paraphernalia in control of our countries. So we had the economy still in the
hands of Britain, in our country, and this was also the phenomenon in other
countries, although the powers might not have been British all the time.
“We continue to look at ways and means of associating with our
neighbors in the economic field, trying to get their help. And so when Africa
associates with Latin America, and we are part of that association, we do hope
that association will yield benefits on a reciprocal basis.” (Zimbabwe
Herald, Sept. 27)
The summit participants signed a document on the final day urging the U.N.
and the World Bank to provide for developing countries to have greater
decision-making power within these international bodies. President Chávez
announced that a number of Latin American countries had pledged to start a
regional development bank, Banco del Sur, with $20 billion.
Outcomes of the summit
Agreements made at the Africa-South America Summit include the founding of a
Radio of the South that would encompass a network of stations anchored to
Venezuelan National Radio. The mission of the proposed network would be
“to bring the revolutionary struggles of the people of the South to the
forefront, and to promote the union of peoples of the South through information
exchange and cross-national collaboration.” (21st Century Socialism, Oct.
The network will initially be heard by 40 percent of the people in
Venezuela. It will also share programs with radio stations in Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru
and Uruguay, as well as Algeria, Benin, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea and the
The proposed Bank of the South will be headed by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,
Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela. “It will be our bank, to bring back the
reserves that we have up there in the North that they use to give credits to
us,” President Chávez said.
The summit passed a resolution condemning the coup in Honduras and the siege
against the Brazilian Embassy there. It demanded the immediate reinstallation
of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
President Chávez proposed a secretariat of the Africa-South America
Summit, based on Margarita Island, to ensure the implementation of plans and
projects outlined by the summit.
Over the two-day period, memoranda of understanding for the establishment of
joint mining ventures were signed between the Venezuelan government and several
African states, including Sierra Leone, Mali, Namibia, Niger and
Coming on the heels of the General Assembly and the G-20, this summit
provided the developing countries in Africa and South America a forum to
clearly define their political and economic positions within the global system
and to chart a course aimed at genuine independence and development.