The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) trade group -member nations: Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica- will be initiating the use of its own currency, the “sucre,” in a system independent of the current world monetary system. The virtual debt management system enables trade between the nine member nations.
ALBA was formed by the controversial Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, who also announced the opening of Comerso, a new chain of “cut-rate retail stores that will sell everything from food to cars to clothing from places such as China, Argentina and Bolivia,” according to Agence France Presse. “We’re going to defeat speculation,” Mr Chavez reportedly said.
In further developments, Reuters reported Venezuela to have merged three failed private banks with a larger public sector one, late last month, with the stated aim of offering lower interest rates for low-income borrowers like small ranchers. Venezuela closed eight small banks in the latter quarter of 2009 for problems involving questionable funds. Ten bankers were arrested in the process.