Sacha Llorenti, newly elected executive secretary of the regional bloc, assesses the challenges for regional integration
At the last summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), Sacha Llorenti was elected the new executive secretary of the bloc. The former Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations (UN) was appointed by his predecessor David Choquehuanca, current Bolivian vice-president, shortly after his country resumed active participation in ALBA-TCP.
Llorenti was one of the officials who accompanied ex-president Evo Morales for almost a year of exile in Argentina, shortly after the 2019 coup d’etat. Born in Cochabamba and graduated in law, before becoming ambassador to the UN, he served as vice-minister for Coordination with Social Movements.
In an exclusive interview with Brasil de Fato, Sacha Llorenti assesses the challenges of the Latin American integration and the priorities for the next year of his administration.
Brasil de Fato: ALBA-TCP issued a statement shortly after the invasion of the United States Congress, rejecting the violent acts. How to read this political episode and what are the expectations regarding the relationship with Joe Biden’s administraton?
Sacha Llorenti : We called on the U.S. authorities to comply with the mandate expressed in the elections, which is a basic principle of any type of democracy.
In addition, we express our solidarity with the people of the United States, a country that is going through multiple crises, which translate, for example, into the emergence of racist and supremacist groups.
The ALBA-TCP countries basically have some aspirations or notions of how international relations should be carried out. Our principles are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, a document which is hardly discussed now, the founding document of the UN that establishes the basic principles of multilateralism, which aims to build an equitable world order.
Among these principles, respect for the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States stand out. All States, regardless of their size, have equal rights and duties within the ALBA. Therefore, any other country’s relationship with ALBA-TCP must take place within these limits. For this reason, we do not ask for anything extraordinary; we only ask for compliance with international law.
What are the challenges for Latin American integration in the coming year, considering that conservative governments still prevail in the region?
The last few years have been the worst, not only for the Latin American and Caribbean integration, but also for multilateralism, which has suffered systematic attacks, mainly from the United States.
Non-recognition of the Paris Agreement, of the Human Rights Council, boycott to the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, and attacks on the Palestinian community are part of an extensive list of situations that demonstrate these attacks.
In our region, the greatest threat was the OAS, mainly Luis Almagro, OAS secretary general, who was Donald Trump’s main accomplice in the attacks on peace, stability, democracy and possibilities for integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.
There was also a systematic practice to dismantle integration bodies. They sabotaged UNASUR in a terrible way, we hope that we can recover this space. The Celac [Community of Latin American and Caribbean States] has been sadly paralyzed.
And in the midst of these problems, exacerbated by the offensive by the U.S. government’s offensive and the complicity of the OAS, ALBA remained to be a hope.
We are convinced that the coming months and years will be better for Bolívar and Martí’s dream of turning America into a single family.
What are the next steps to reactivate the Bank of ALBA and the creation of the Sucre currency? Is it possible to create it as a cryptocurrency?
This is one of the great challenges we have. We want to transform ALBA into a bloc that can negotiate at the United Nations and other international organizations, but in financial matters, we want to attract investments and other types of capital all together.
The economic arm is fundamental and it goes hand in hand with the social, communicational and cultural arm. The Bank of ALBA played a very important role. Our post-pandemic plan is to strengthen it as a priority. All necessary measures will be taken. We need to strengthen the ALBA economic council and, in due course, we will disclose all the agreements we reach on this topic.
How will the creation of the ALBA-TCP Covid-19 vaccine bank between Cuba and Venezuela be?
We determined that, within two months, a meeting of the ALBA Social Council should take place. This should bring together those responsible on this matter. In the meantime, we are compiling information about member countries in relation to the fight against the pandemic.
Right now, countries are adopting measures individually, according to their logic of vaccine acquisition. But ALBA’s goal, under the mandate of the last conference, is to coordinate these efforts and that no one is left behind.
In a nutshell, what will your main objective as ALBA executive secretary be?
The executive secretariat has the task of strengthening the mechanisms of unity and integration, as well as following up and promoting the materialization of the decisions taken at each level.
Our structure is headed by the ALBA heads of State and Government; therefore, we have a political council, formed mainly by the ministers of Foreign Affairs, and then we have the other councils, such as the economic and the social ones.
My interest is to relaunch what needs to be relaunched, to strengthen what needs to be strengthened and to continue what is underway.
Last year, mainly due to the pandemic, many of the efforts have lost pace. This is a good time to resume them.
After experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, do you believe that society is more open to discuss other alternative economic and political models to the capitalist system?
In a very short time, the pandemic served as an example to show other existential threats to the human family, such as the latent nuclear threat, the threat of climate change, the technological issue and the terrible inequality. These four threats are common to humanity, and they are existential. They put our species at risk.
We can fall into the trap of not learning the lessons from this pandemic. The last pandemic happened exactly a century ago, just after World War I and just before World War II. I hope we learn the painful lesson from the loss of so many lives.
This may serve to expose the structural causes of this type of situations, and this has to do with a system, with an unsustainable mode of production and consumption.
In short, capitalism is the main threat against humanity. If we don’t tackle these structural causes, we obviously won’t have learned a lesson.
Therefore, it is necessary that what we experienced during the pandemic allows us to try to expand the democratization of all spaces: Democratization of access to vaccines, access to public health, democratization of the economy, financial systems, compliance with international law.
The challenge lies in learning from the lessons of the pandemic, in democratizing all spaces within the countries, but also within the sphere of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the so-called global governance.
What factors explain the expressive triumph of MAS after almost a year of the coup in Bolivia?
There are several things. The first one is the success of President Evo Morales’ 14 years in office. In this period, we have reduced poverty like never before in Bolivian history, and we have reduced inequality like few countries in the world.
In other words, we had a government that did what it should do: to improve the lives of its citizens.
The youth, who probably at some point felt distant from the Bolivian revolutionary process, experienced a dictatorship in their own flesh, what it is like to have tanks in the streets, systematic repression, political persecution and the application of neoliberal measures such as the privatization of companies, the boycott to national production, and the privilege of the few over the majority. There was an accelerated pace of what a dictatorship and neoliberalism are. This aroused awareness.
Another factor is the awareness and unity of Bolivian social movements, and also the leadership of President Evo Morales. He is the great articulator of this alliance of social movements that represents the Movement Towards Socialism, which is not a party as such, but an alliance that has shown its strength in the last elections, and it was very important.
I believe that the election of President Luis Arce provides a stimulus to the Bolivian revolutionary process that will last a long time.