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Antigua and Barbuda, between Bolivarian ideal and American model.

Antigua and Barbuda is one of the most prosperous nations in the Caribbean, thanks to tourism industry and offshore financial services. The country is at the crossroads of two paths:One leads to the North liberal American model, tourism, banking; The other is inspired by the political ideal of Simon Bolivar, Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, and encourages people autonomy and social development.

Christopher Columbus landed in Antigua and Barbuda in 1493. The islands were first Spanish, French and then English. In 1674, Christopher Codrington founded the first large sugar plantation on the island of Antigua, bringing slaves from the west coast of Africa. Slavery was abolished in 1834. In 1981, Antigua and Barbuda became independent, joined the Commonwealth and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). At the time of independence, in 1981, Vere Bird became Prime Minister. In 1994, succeeded his son, Lester Bird. The Bird family, which dominated the country from 1981 until 1994, has been guilty of numerous cases of corruption and abuse of power. In 1990, the family, which was already subject of much suspicion, was directly involved in a scandal where Israeli weapons were dispatched to a Colombian drug cartel, through Antigua government. Vere Bird Jr., the eldest son, then Minister of National Security, had to resign from Parliament and government. In 2004, Baldwin Spencer ended the political monopoly of the Birds on the island by winning general elections. Lester Bird is currently leader of the opposition.
In the early 90s, swindlers used two banks in Antigua to extract $ 60 million from people who were looking for risky loans. Several Russian banks operating in Antigua were closed in 1997 and 1998, involved in money-laundering activities.
In April 1999, the US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which collects and analyzes information on money laundering, put Antigua and Barbuda on its "black list" as its British counterpart. The banks in Antigua and Barbuda then stopped accepting cash deposits and began to follow stricter rules. In 2001, after an international working group found that Antigua and Barbuda was fully cooperating in the fight against money laundering, the United Kingdom withdrew Antigua from its list, as did the US Treasury Department few months later.
But in 2009, the main investor of the islands, the Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, was prosecuted for having mounted, from Barbuda, a "Ponzi"chain. (See Charles Ponzi, designer of a fraud scheme developed on a Ponzi chain; the interest paid to savers is coming from the sums invested by the following subscribers.
In absence of local prosecutions, no formal investigation has been initiated in Antigua, the extent of involvement of civil servants in the scam remains unknown.
Finally, on 3 March 2013, an independent journalist investigating a corruption case involving members of the government was shot dead. The newspaper's website suffered several cyber-attacks in July 2013. Publishers were ultimately forced to flee the country, due to threats against their families and repeated vandalism of their homes.

At the same time, Antigua and Barbuda has been a member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), since 2009. This move appears to be tricky, given the country's involvement in international tourism and banking system. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas "Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América", wanted by Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, strongly opposes the Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas (FTAA), which Washington would like to impose. The Alliance, which includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Christopher and Nieves and Granada, favor public sector, an oil companyPetrosur, which relies on Venezuelan production against the powerful Anglo-American companies. Tele SurLatin American transcontinental television (launched in 2005 from Venezuela) clearly aims to compete with the American channels CNN and ABC. ALBA has created SUCRE (Sistema Único de Compensación REGional), a substitutional currency to American dollar for exchanges between "Bolivarian" states, the currency is named in honor of General Antonio José de Sucre, companion of Simon Bolivar and hero of the South American liberation struggle against imperialism, then Spanish. SUCRE wants, of course, To reduce the dependence of its member states from the dollar. The Bolivarian States call for the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, the end of sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the independence of Puerto Rico. They also warmly support Russian and Chinese vetoes against UN resolution against The government of Bashar Al-Assad and condemn the systematic policy of interference and destabilization carried out by the West. 
ALBA launched Operation Miracle, which had enabled more than two million poor people in Latin America and the rest of the world to get free eyes surgery. The former retired Bolivian military, Mario Terán, who had executed Che Guevara, had benefited from the miracle program. According to Fernand Rojas, Cuban Deputy Minister of Culture, the ALBA program favors "spiritual" values, ​​rather than the lure of gain. The future will tell which option will be chosen by Antigua and Barbuda.
CDNN Kimerly-Wilson


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