Leaders of St. Kitts, Grenada face opposition over ALBA bids

Basseterre, St Kitts, Jan 31 (EFE).- The St. Kitts and Nevis head of government has been taken to task for having announced in Cuba that the federation is about to become a member state of ALBA, the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas.

That kind of decision should have been announced in Basseterre, not overseas, the leader of the Team Unity opposition coalition, Dr. Timothy Harris, said Friday.

"He ought to first advise us before he is leaving that he is intending to go on a particular visit, and those kinds of arrangements or decisions are what he intends to make on our behalf," Harris told reporters.

Prime Minister Denzil Douglas disclosed his plan to join ALBA while attending this week's summit in Havana of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

"My political forefathers have always treated regional integration with the highest consideration on our political agenda. And this government which I have the opportunity to lead at this time cannot but do the same," the prime minister said in Cuba.

Several Caribbean Community member-states, including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St Lucia, are already part of ALBA.

While acknowledging that ALBA member-states are benefiting from the organization, Harris said ALBA has to be looked at in its totality because its basic thrust is providing an alternative to the leadership of United States.

There has also been reaction in Grenada to its government's decision to formally apply for ALBA membership.

The prime minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, said the decision will help strengthen regional co-operation and integration.

"My feeling is the more cooperation we can get among the countries in the region, in particular in the context of the available of resources we can use to facilitate our development, to me is better," he said.

One of his predecessors, Tillman Thomas, said the ideological slant of ALBA was one of the reasons his administration stayed away from the group.

Mitchell, however, rejected the notion that ALBA is largely an ideological organization.

"While we are members of many organizations, regional and international, we reserve the right as a country to take our own individual positions on issues," he said.

"Being a member of ALBA does not prevent us taking any initiative as seen fit," the Grenadian leader said.