Caribbean unification blasts-off with PETROCARIBE

Campaign News | Thursday, 30 June 2005

New deal for island nations

Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, Jun 29 (Prensa Latina) With the creation of PETROCARIBE, the Caribbean region takes an important step Wednesday toward the unification proposal promoted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

The first Heads of State and Government Energy Conference about PETROCARIBE includes a third, and earlier, meeting of area energy ministers, two prior meetings were held last year in Caracas and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Tuesday, while receiving Cuban President Fidel Castro, Chávez noted that the proposal is to create a Caribbean energy center based on solidarity.

Chávez, said to be "infinitely optimistic" about the plan, warned about the energy crisis threatening the world; above all, because of what he called "excessive squandering".

He pointed out that for years wealthy nations have taken Venezuela"s oil riches and now these will be shared with neighboring countries through PETROCARIBE.

Chávez and Fidel Castro agree on including the proposed regional energy cooperation plan in a wider regional project involving a union of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

"It is no longer a question of struggling to improve, now it is a question of struggling for survival," the Cuban president pointed out, asserting that humanity is confronting a crisis of almost apocalyptic proportions brought about by the developed nations.

The PETROCARIBE initiative aims for better utilization of area resources and to diminish negative effects of energy costs due to speculative and geopolitical factors.

Among other aspects, PETROCARIBE will coordinate technological cooperation and give a boost to regional unification based on shared social responsibility.

The conference is attended by delegations from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Granada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Cristobel and Nevis, Santa Lucia, Saint Vicente and the Grenadines, Surinam and Trinidad and Tobago.

Observers include Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) General Secretary Diego Pallares and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) energy expert Ronald Clarke.

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Fidel meets Chavez for talks on building oil alliance

PUERTO LA CRUZ, Venezuela 28/06/2005: Cuban President Fidel Castro joined his close friend and ally President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela on Tuesday to discuss a plan to provide the Caribbean with more oil on preferential terms.

Castro stepped off a Cuban jet accompanied by Chavez, who has called the 78-year-old leader his "older brother," before beginning talks on forming a joint company, Petrocaribe, to build a regional oil alliance and distribute fuel more cheaply in the Caribbean.

Chavez says the initiative is about more than just bargain oil prices, and represents the "union of the Caribbean."

Chavez has defended plans for Petrocaribe - and a similar South American joint venture called Petrosur - as a way to help both Venezuela and the region while moving toward a more cooperative international economy.

Resting his arm on Castro's shoulder, Chavez warned that increased energy consumption in countries such as the United States was reaching unsustainable levels.

By doing little to slow increased demand for energy, the world's most developed countries "are causing a humanitarian crisis for survival" among smaller nations, Castro said.

Chavez is firmly opposed to the U.S.-proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas and has instead sought to build support for his own brainchild, the Bolivarian Alternative trade pact, named after independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, already has special deals to provide oil to a number of Caribbean countries, as well as nations from Uruguay to China.

Venezuela and Mexico supply subsidized oil to 11 Central American and Caribbean countries under the 1980 San Jose pact.

Last year, Chavez signed a deal with the Dominican Republic to sell up to 50,000 barrels a day of oil with preferential financing.

Two months ago, Venezuela opened a new office in Havana for its state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., and announced it had increased sales to Cuba to 90,000 barrels a day.

In turn, the Cuban government has sent thousands of Cuban doctors to Venezuela, where they work treating the poor for free.

Officials said delegations from 15 countries were expected, including the leaders of Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic.

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