On National and International Situation

widely recognised reference points for other countries. We should continue to study the developments in China and stand for improved ties between India and China bilaterally and also through multilateral platforms like BRICS and SCO while resolutely opposing the US policy to use India as its pawn in the US gameplan of encircling and containing China.

16. While China today hardly inspires or reflects the global anti-
imperialist and socialist imagination, Latin America has emerged as a vibrant bastion of the Left movement in the global arena. Latin American people, in the recent past, have elected several governments that boldly oppose neo-liberal policies and have strong anti-imperialist leanings. Bolivia and Venezuela have nationalized key industries and Ecuador has closed a US military base. This is noteworthy in a region that was known for violent implementation of neo-liberal policies under US supported dictatorships from Chile to Argentina just a few decades ago. Cuba and Venezuela have co-founded the Bolivarian Alliance for our Americas (ALBA) that now has eight member states, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. ALBA is building an alternative to the US dominated trade with the aim of regional economic integration based on mutual social welfare, bartering and economic aid. To further deepen Latin American integration and challenge American domination, ALBA has been followed up with CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, comprising 33 sovereign countries in the Americas excluding USA and Canada.

17. Cuba continues to be the greatest source of inspiration for Latin American people resisting imperialism and building solidarity in the region. The towering presence of Fidel Castro at the helm of the Cuban state and the Communist Party ended after five decades, with Fidel paving the way for Raul Castro, the current President of Cuba and also First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Cuban agriculture in particular was deeply affected. Starting in the 1990s, Cuba developed ecological methods in agriculture and is moving towards a path of food sovereignty. Cuba recently implemented some economic reforms, including limited private entrepreneurship, that are of concern but it is too early to assess the impact. It has increased trade relations with China making it the second biggest trading partner of Cuba after Venezuela.

18. The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has posed a new challenge for the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian revolution. Chavez had recently won yet another emphatic victory with a margin of 10% in a landslide election with a voter turnout of 80%, winning 20 out of the 22 states. His successor Nicolas Maduro Moros now faces a fiercely fought election this April (which he eventually won by a narrow margin). The socio-economic reforms started in Chavez’s first term have started to show results. Venezuela has the lowest inequality level in the region and poverty has been reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010). Barrio Adentro, the primary health-care programme that involves more than 8,300 Cuban doctors in 7,000 clinics, has saved 1.4 million lives. With the declared goal of establishing 21st Century Socialism, the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela has started reforming and challenging the capitalist system from within. Chavez’s death has provided an opportunity for the Venezuelan oligarchy working in concert with imperial powers to try and destabilize the country. US President Obama’s statement at Chavez’ demise that avoided offering condolences and instead extended US support for Venezuelan people at what he called ‘a new chapter in (Venezuela’s) history,’ clearly indicates that the US which was thoroughly rebuffed by the Venezuelan people during the failed coup attempt of 2002 is now desperate to secure a ‘regime change’ by other means. But the deepening of democracy since 1998 has intensified the political participation of the Venezuelan people and serves as a powerful deterrent against destabilisation. For instance, communities are now empowered to debate and allocate budgets according to their local social needs in over 30,000 communal councils.