They include Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Ecuador, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
It's a cooperative system of goods and services trade outside the exploitive WTO-international banking one.
Its goal is ambitious. It aims for regionally integrating and developing social societies throughout the region.
It's based on complementarity, not competition; solidarity, not domination; cooperation, not exploitation; and respect for national sovereignty free from predatory countries and corporate giants.
What will happen without Chavez? How will Cuba be affected? It depends on Venezuelan cooperation. It gets 100,000 daily barrels of oil on "highly concessional terms."
In return, Havana provides medical and educational services. Cuba expert Arturo Lopez Levy calls the arrangement "the backbone of ALBA."
Before leaving for Cuba, Chavez acknowledged his risks. In case anything happens, he named Vice President Nicolas Maduro his preferred successor. He urged Venezuelans to choose him if new elections are necessary.
Some observers believe National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello may challenge him. He's a longtime close Chavez ally.