Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took a giant symbolic leap in the direction of Latin American independence on July 6 when Venezuela and Ecuador conducted the first bilateral trade deal between two countries using a new trading currency, the Sucre, instead of the US dollar. The Unitary System of Regional Compensation (Sucre) is the currency the adopted last year by the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) regional bloc to allow member states to trade without using the US dollar.
The head of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on June 24 that the government is to nationalise 11 oil rigs previously operated by a US petroleum firm. This comes after the company, Helmerich & Payne, closed down production and refused to negotiate a new services agreement. PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez said the nationalisation would “boost domestic production of hydrocarbons and strengthen the policy of full oil sovereignty”.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) released a statement on June 28 reaffirming its commitment to the Honduran people’s struggle for a return to democracy one year after the coup that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya. ALBA is an anti-imperialist alliance founded in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela. Its members include Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. Under Zelaya, Honduras joined ALBA, which suspended Honduras’s membership after the coup. The regime has since withdrawn from ALBA.