RHC Latin Amer News Roundup - Apr 30, 2005
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Latin American News Roundup from Radio Havana Cuba
April 30, 2005
by Roberto Bastidas
* Venezuela and Cuba Strengthen Relations
* Final Declaration from the First Cuba-Venezuela ALBA Meeting
* ALBA, True Regional Integration Process, Says Fidel Castro
* Venezuelan Journalist Calls for Posada Carriles Trial
Venezuela and Cuba Strengthen Relations
Caracas, April 30 (RHC)--During a two-day visit to the Caribbean
island, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez and Cuba's President Fidel
Castro celebrated the inauguration of branch offices of the Venezuelan
state-owned oil company PdVSA and the also state owned Banco
Industrial de Venezuela in Havana. Also, they attended an
international gathering of political activists designed to promote the
Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
Forty-nine agreements in areas such as commerce, energy, finances,
agriculture, communications and technology were signed after which
healthcare; education, housing, infrastructure and cultural
initiatives were discussed.
In addition to strengthening their economic ties and political
alliances the proposals undertaken by the two nations, in particular
the opening of a branch office of PdVSA, are an important step to
further solidifying Petrocaribe. Petrocaribe is a Venezuelan-initiated
joint oil operation designed to offset high oil prices to the
Caribbean region by exploiting oil off Cuban shores, refining it in
Cuba and selling it from Havana, thus reducing transportation costs.
In order to consolidate this endeavor, PdVSA President Rafael Ramírez
announced that PdVSA and Cuban oil company Cupet will build a
lubricants plant, a shipping terminal and a storage facility as well
as complete the Cienfuegos Soviet-initiated refinery. Petrobrás, the
Brazilian oil company, is also expected to participate in the
Ramírez, who is also the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, notes that
these moves are part of Venezuela's strategy to diversify its markets.
"We have advanced with Jamaica in terms of having refining capacity
and with Trinidad and Tobago in commercialization; we are here in Cuba
installing an operations base. We will sign an ensemble of documents,
among them a lubricant project and [discuss] the possibility of
advancing in joint projects. Additionally, there are diverse areas
that are being studied," stated Ramírez on Wednesday night.
According to retired Latin American Amoco executive Jorge Piñón
Cervera, "[t]he expansion or retrofitting of the Cienfuegos refinery
would be a very good investment... One of the reasons the price of
crude is so high is because of the lack of refinery capacity."
Since 2000, Venezuela and Cuba have participated in what is often
referred to as an oil for doctors program. Under this agreement Cuba
provides Venezuela with 14,000 doctors and has trained Venezuelan
teachers and educators in the world-renown Yo sí Puedo (I can do it!)
methodology that is close to eradicating illiteracy in the oil-rich
nation. In turn, Venezuela supplies Cuba with below market priced oil,
as done with most Central American and Caribbean nations. According to
Ramírez, this new arrangement will deepen, with the close to doubling
of daily oil shipments to the Caribbean island will close to double,
from 53,000 bpd to between 80,000 to 90,000 bpd.
"Venezuela is long on capital and can use more talent. Cuba is short
on capital and long on talent. This arrangement benefits both
governments," notes economist Oscar A. Echevarria.
Chávez's visit to the Caribbean island is likely to yield a slew of
negative statements from US spokespersons, who are invariably
irritated by the strengthening of the already tight Cuban-Venezuelan
alliance. Relations have notably deteriorated between Caracas and
Washington recently. Venezuela, referred to as Latin America's "model
democracy" before Chávez was elected is now ranked by the CIA as the
top "potentially unstable country" in the region.
Washington fears that furthering deepening the political alliance
between Cuba and Venezuela will disrupt the flow of oil from Venezuela
to the US. Venezuela currently supplies the US with 15 percent of its
oil and, as illustrated by US President George W. Bush's recent
proposal to drill in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
(ANWR), is causing the Bush Administration to take measures to ensure
that "Americans [do] not live at the mercy of global trends and the
decisions of other nations."
"The FTAA is just pieces"
The 49 agreements signed represent an important step in bilateral
integration, both economically and politically, yet according to both
Chávez and Castro, Petrocaribe and the plans to develop refining
capacity in the Caribbean are more than just another average
agreement. With the end goal of lowering shipping costs for the small
Caribbean islands, the projects are an integral part of the promoting
the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Venezuelan
counter-proposal to the US-proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas
Chávez's visit coincided with a Cuban-hosted international gathering
designed to promote the Venezuelan proposed ALBA. Despite the fact
that no other Latin American country (other than Cuba and Venezuela)
has committed itself to the ALBA, Chávez and Castro feel that the FTAA
is no longer competition.
"What's left of the FTAA is just pieces, bilateral agreements," stated
Castro during a three-hour speech at the conference. "The FTAA will
not become reality with its mercantile criteria and its egotistical
interests for managerial profits nor national benefits at the expense
of other countries," Castro affirmed.
Another important agreement, the joint initiative between the Banco
Industrial de Venezuela (BIV) and the Cuban Ministry of Internal
Commerce, is designed to promote national development. With the
opening of the BIV office in Havana, bilateral commerce will be
facilitated. Additionally, alternative possibilities of financing
medium-sized businesses, cooperatives and producers, as well as
capturing new markets and instigating new commercial alternatives in
the Caribbean will be designed. Projects in the works include the
manufacturing of solar panels and the creation of an experimental seed
bank, nickel and cobalt mining projects and investments in
Trade relations between the two nations are also expected to deepened.
At an expo of Venezuelan businesses, these sold 412 million dollars
worth of goods such as clothing, shoes, tires, toys and spots
equipment. Cuba will be opening a chain of stores in Caracas selling
products in solidarity with the people. Additionally, a branch office
of a Cuban bank will be established in the Venezuelan capital.
Final Declaration from the First Cuba-Venezuela ALBA Meeting
Havana, April 30 (RHC)--The delegations of Cuba and Venezuela meeting
in Havana, Cuba on April 27 and 28, 2005, and inspired by the
historical Joint Statement and the Agreement for a Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), signed by Hugo Chávez Frías,
president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and President Fidel
Castro Ruz, president of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba,
have drawn up and approved a Strategic Plan for the application of
ALBA, in accordance with the Article 3 of the above-mentioned
The article establishes: "The two countries will produce a strategic
plan to guarantee the most beneficial productive complementation on
the bases of rationality, exploiting existing advantages on one side
or the other, saving resources, extending useful employment, access to
markets or any other consideration sustained in genuine solidarity
that will promote the strengths of the two countries."
The Strategic Plan agreed envisages the following among the most
Inaugurating this year in Venezuela 600 Integral Diagnostic Centers:
600 Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Departments and 35 High
Technology Centers offering professional healthcare services free of
charge to the Venezuelan population.
The training of 40,000 doctors and 5,000 health technology specialists
in Venezuela within the Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood) II
health care program for the poor.
The training in Cuba of 10,000 graduates from the Mission Ribas
(preparation of high school students for university education) program
in the areas of Medicine and Nursing, who will be deployed throughout
the country's polyclinics and hospitals and will stay in the homes of
Cuba will continue its contribution to the development of Plans Barrio
Adentro I and II, through which up to 30,000 Cuban doctors and other
healthcare workers located throughout Venezuela will lend their
services by the end of the second semester of this year.
This year in Cuba, 100,000 Venezuelans with a variety of eye
conditions are to receive surgical treatment. To that effect, the
conditions have been created within hospitals to provide the most
modern and sophisticated methods available as well as living
conditions to ensure a comfortable stay.
Likewise, Cuba will maintain its support in order to contribute to the
success of the special Bolivarian programs, including:
Mission Robinson I, through which Venezuela will soon declare itself
the second illiteracy-free territory in the American continent, having
taught 1.46 million Venezuelans how to read and write.
Mission Robinson II, within which some 1.262 million Venezuelans are
continuing their studies to sixth-grade level.
Mission Ribas, educating high school students to give them access to
university education; an opportunity for young Venezuelans offered by
the Bolivarian Revolution. To that respect, the fulfillment of the
Scholarship Plan offered by Cuba is to be promoted.
Mission Sucre for the universalization of higher education.
Mission Vuelvan Caras to train specialized workers and provide them
with new sources of employment.
In addition, the two countries will work on the design of a
continental project to eliminate illiteracy in Latin America.
Medical treatment of Venezuelan patients in Cuba is to be maintained.
By the end of 2004, the number of patients treated stood at 7,793,
accompanied by 6,567 relatives or friends, who benefited from highly
specialized services including cardiovascular surgery, ophthalmology,
orthopedics, and organ transplants. It is anticipated that this year,
the program will include a further 3,000 patients and their companions
In the economic and commercial sector, the Strategic Plan also covers
concrete plans as well as projects which we are jointly proposing to
develop in the immediate future.
Today saw the inauguration, by the presidents of the two countries, of
the Venezuela Petróleos S.A. Office in Havana - PDVSA in Cuba - whose
social objective is the exploration and exploitation, refining,
importation, exportation and commercialization of hydro-carbons and
their derivatives, as well its transportation and storage.
Also inaugurated in Havana was a 100%-Venezuelan subsidiary of the
Industrial Bank of Venezuela, and the opening in Caracas of a
100%-Cuban subsidiary of the Foreign Bank of Cuba has been approved.
The two state institutions will make a significant contribution to the
sustained increase in economic relations and bilateral trade, which
have already begun to materialize.
The 3rd Meeting of the Administrative Commission of the Economic
Complementation Agreement decided to grant preferential tariffs to 104
new lines of Cuban exports and a timetable for progressive tax relief,
for those as well as existing preferences. In all cases, Venezuelan
commitments as laid out in the Agreement between the Andean Community
of Nations and MERCOSUR have been taken into account.
For its part, Cuba issued Joint Resolution No. 6 from the Ministries
of Finance and Prices and Foreign Trade, which exempts from taxes on
profits companies owning or utilizing vessels of Venezuelan flag, and
participating in the transportation of passengers or cargo on national
territory, and from the payment of tonnage rights for Venezuelan
vessels arriving in Cuban ports from abroad.
Cuba is to acquire the initial sum of $412 million in Venezuelan items
with productive purposes, as well as those manufactured for social use
or for direct consumption by the population, which will have a
positive effect on generating employment in Venezuela, leading to the
creation of some 100,000 new jobs.
These goods will be on offer on the Cuban market, with preferential
treatment within the policy of economic and social development and
elevating the living standard of the Cuban people.
In the process of preparing this first ALBA meeting, the two
delegations also identified 11 projects for the establishment of joint
ventures and other methods of economic complementation in Cuba and
Venezuela which will be progressively formalized once studies underway
confirm their economic viability.
In that regard, this afternoon (yesterday), the following agreements
A memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a strategic
alliance for iron and steel development in Venezuela and for the
coordination of a bilateral enterprise oriented toward the recovery of
Letters of intent for the foundation of a joint business directed at
the improvement of the railway infrastructure of both countries; the
fostering of integration in the area of maritime transportation; the
constitution of a bilateral enterprise to promote agricultural
development; the enlargement of the supertanker base in Matanzas; the
creation of a joint strategic alliance with the goal of developing
nickel and cobalt mining projects in the regions of Aragua, Carabobo
and Cojedes; the repair and construction of sea vessels; the creation
of a Cuban-Venezuelan mixed enterprise for the production of sports
equipment and another for fuel transportation.
Likewise, it was agreed to work toward the organization and
implementation of nine projects for endogenous development in both
An endogenous development project in the state of Barinas; "Hato
Caucagua," in the state of Apure; a Hotel Sheraton, Melía Miramar and
School of Tourism in the state of Vargas; "Santa Rita" Zamorano Farm
in Apure state and Ciudad Vacacional de los Caracas (Vacation City of
Los Caracas) in the state of Vargas.
In Cuba, endogenous projects will be developed in the Higher Institute
of Agricultural Science in Havana (ISCAH) for the training of young
Cubans and thousands of experts and professionals from the Venezuelan
agricultural sector, as well as those from the communities of Bolívar,
Sandino and Martí, in the Sandino municipality of Pinar del Río
Among other documents signed after two intense days of meetings,
especially notable are:
Three agreements between the government of the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela and the government of the Republic of Cuba, related to air
transportation, maritime transportation and the establishment and
operation of a shipyard for the repair and construction of small naval
Bilateral agreements in the areas of plant and animal health.
Agreements, framework contracts and memorandums of understanding in
tourism, information technology, communications; transportation,
communication and information; education and sports; biodiversity, the
environment, science and technology; hydraulic resources and
Memorandums of understanding between Venezuela's Ministries of Popular
Economy and Light and Commercial Industry and Cuba's Ministry of
A framework agreement, contracts for the buying and selling of crude
oil and the warehousing of crude oil and its derivatives, and letters
of intent for the restoration of the Cienfuegos Refinery and for
technology transfers between PDVSA and CUPET.
A framework agreement for cooperation in the electrical energy
industry, and for cooperation in the energy sector.
An international agreement on construction between the Venezuelan
Ministry of Habitat and Housing and the Cuban Ministry of
Agreements in the civil aeronautics sector.
An agreement to convene the 1st Latin American and Caribbean
Integration Games, to take place in Cuba June 17-30, 2005.
An agreement for Venezuela's utilization of Cuba's anti-doping
laboratory and the beginning of construction of a similar facility in
A framework agreement between the organizing committees of both
countries for the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in
Agreements between the two countries' Ministries of Foreign Affairs
for the promotion of ALBA in international agencies, including - among
other initiatives - its presentation at the 2nd South Summit,
scheduled for Qatar in June 2005, and at the High-Level Meeting of the
UN General Assembly in September of the same year.
In all, including government agreements, letters of intent,
memorandums of understanding, contracts and framework agreements, 40
documents were signed.
Also, as part of the Strategic Plan, the 1st Conference for Caribbean
Integration in the Sports Sector took place in Caracas in March, with
the participation of 10 Central American and Caribbean countries.
An important program of bilateral cooperation was formalized in the
fishing and agriculture sectors, and a 1st Summit on Regional Fishing
and Agriculture has been arranged in Venezuela during May 15-19 of
A cultural cooperation program was drawn up, which includes - among
other things - editorial and film services, and the development of
discography, as well as studying the creation of a joint enterprise
for culture industries.
Contracts worth $305 million have been signed for 2005, according to
agreements made during the 5th Joint Commission, and which are part of
All of these agreements include actions and initiatives to
progressively contribute to strengthening the integration process
inspired by the ALBA, which will become an example, and in which we
aspire to include Latin America and the Caribbean.
We should express that this Strategic Plan is a flexible tool that
will continue to be extended and enriched as new proposals emerge that
compliment the objectives established by the Joint Statement and the
Agreement for the implementation of the ALBA.
In view of the historical privilege of making this Final Declaration
public in the presence of President Hugo Chávez and President Fidel
Castro, both delegations formally pledge to spare no effort until the
dream of Bolívar and Martí of a Latin united and integrated America
and Caribbean is attained.
As the Joint Declaration expresses: "...we fully agree that the ALBA
will not become a reality with mercantilist ideas or the selfish
interests of business profitability or national benefit to the
detriment of other peoples. Only a broad Latin Americanist vision,
which acknowledges the impossibility of our countries' developing and
being truly independent in an isolated manner, will be capable of
achieving what Bolívar called "...to see the formation in the Americas
of the greatest nation in the world, not so much for its size and
riches as for its freedom and glory," and that Martí conceived of as
"Our America," to differentiate it from the other America, the
expansionist one with imperialist appetites.
In his memorable June 11, 1892, article in the magazine Patria, José
Martí wrote: "Our enemy obeys one plan: to inflame us, disperse us,
divide us, suffocate us. That is why we are obeying another plan: to
show ourselves in all our stature, to tighten up, join together, to
evade him, finally making our homeland free. Plan against plan."
This, which we are approving today, is that of Bolívar and Martí.
¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!
Venezuelan and Cuban delegations
ALBA, True Regional Integration Process, Says Fidel Castro
Havana, April 30 (RHC)-- The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
(ALBA) constitutes a true process of regional integration for the
subcontinent's economic and commercial independence, Cuban President
Fidel Castro maintained in Havana.
Addressing activists attending the meeting on the Free Trade Area of
the Americas on Friday, Fidel Castro highly praised advantages of the
ALBA, which stemmed from a proposal by Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez, also present in the meeting.
Earlier, both leaders chaired the signing of the strategic plan for
the application of the ALBA.
Under the accord, Havana will purchase Venezuelan products with a
productive, social and consumption purpose (worth 412 million USD).
That possibility should be thanked to the Bolivarian people, who are
willing to exchange their resources based upon integration, and the US
imperialism, which has created the objective and subjective conditions
to the birth of the ALBA, the Cuban statesman assured.
He also thanked regional leftwing parties and movements that have
fought against the US-concocted treaty, which proves to be a blunt
denial for those who once, predicted the end of history.
The leader of the Cuban Revolution compared those friendly people with
certain Latin American political personages, whom he labelled as
insensitive, cynical and clumsy.
When one sees people so clumsy and powerful like them, ends up asking
if humankind will survive, Fidel Castro contended.
Expressing his views on the ALBA, he said the accord would not make
anyone rich but would surely contribute to the development of Latin
America and the living conditions of people.
Revolutionaries, chiefly Cubans, know the things can be done without
money, Fidel Castro stressed.
The Island statesman said his people should build a monument to the
over four-decade US blockade and the 1990s crisis (known as special
period), which taught them how to rationalize resources.
Cuba´s economic and social potentials are inestimable, he concluded.
Venezuelan Journalist Calls for Posada Carriles Trial
Caracas, April 30 (RHC)-- Trying the terrorists who blew up a Cuban
airliner in 1976 does justice to the innocent victims who have
suffered for it, Venezuelan journalist and researcher Alicia Herrera
"Since I witnessed the terrorist's confession, I am morally entitled to
exhort the Caracas government to continue striving to validate the
extradition of Luis Posada Carriles in the US and try him in
Venezuela," said Herrera in her editorial "Asylum in Miami," published
by Ultimas Noticias newspaper.
The journalist noted it was high time to halt the impunity reflected
on remarks by one of the terrorists connected with the blowing up of
the plane, which she used as title for her book "Pusimos la bomba ¿Y
qué?" (We planted the bomb. Now what?).
She recalled the sabotage killed 73 people; however, criminals faced a
trial full of tricks and exchange of contacts and money, resulting in
minor sentences and their posterior release.
Posada Carriles has been in the US for a month, and is seeking to be
treated as a political exile while the US government remains silent,
She also called to try terrorist of Cuban origin Orlando Bosch,
co-mastermind of the plane bombing freed by judges in Venezuela and
received as a hero in Miami.
compiled by NY Transfer from http://www.radiohc.cu
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