Latin-Caribbean Grouping Hits Nine

HAVANA TIMES, June 24 — The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is holding a top level meeting in Maracay, Venezuela today in which the organization that promotes mutually beneficial trade and social development will increase from six to nine members.

Ecuador, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda will be officially joining Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras and Dominica. Several of the member countries’ leaders are expected to be on hand with host Hugo Chavez at the gathering.

Cuba is represented by its First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura.

The ALBA, founded in 2004, was originally designed as an alternative to a continental free trade scheme promoted by the United States.