chapter  21
ALBA
ByAsa Cusack
Pages 10

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América – ALBA) differs markedly from many of the trade agreements analyzed in this volume in that it was created to oppose the inherently liberalizing model of open regionalism that dominated trade policymaking in the 1980s and 1990s. Officially launched in December 2004 by Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, it emerged as an explicit alternative to the hemispheric Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA),1 which was at that time supported by much of the region and crucially by the USA under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. ALBA went beyond debates about whether regionalism represented a stepping stone or a stumbling block to multilateral trade liberalization, challenging instead the nature and desirability of that very process by proposing a comprehensive form of counter-globalization premised upon cooperation, complementarity and solidarity.2