Venezuela Attends 4th Annual Petrocaribe Summit in Cuba

January 14, 2008

The following is excerpted from an article by Kiraz Janicke which appeared in venezuelanalysis.com, December 23, 2007.

The 4th Summit of Petrocaribe, a regional energy organization initiated by Venezuela , concluded in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos Friday, with member nations signing new agreements to promote economic and social development and regional energy integration.

During his opening speech Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presented member nations with the option of paying for low-cost oil with goods and services instead of cash, based on the model of Cuba , which provides thousands of doctors to treat poor patients in Venezuela in exchange for around 93,000 barrels of oil per day.

Slamming U.S. imposed free trade agreements as "the road to hell" Chavez said that Petrocaribe aims to "resolve asymmetrical access to energy resources through a plan of favorable, equitable and just exchange."

Petrocaribe is creating a "new geopolitics of oil" that serves the people's interests, and not those of imperialists or big corporations, Chavez said.

In addition to the 93,000 barrels to Cuba, through Petrocaribe Venezuela provides for the distribution of a further 53,000 barrels of oil and derivatives per day under favorable conditions of payment to member nations allowing them up to 25 years for repayment with 1 percent interest as long as the price of crude remains above $40 a barrel.

The summit addressed ways of implementing the exchange of goods and services for oil without burdening countries with financial debt as well as more efficient energy use, potentials for technical and professional development and training and the creation of a fund for the financing of energy projects in the region. Chavez also called for the creation of an international fund to promote alternative energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind power.

Members of the Petrocaribe include Antigua and Barbuda , the Bahamas , Belize , Cuba , Dominica , Guyana , Grenada , Haiti , Jamaica , Nicaragua , Dominican Republic , St Lucia , St Kitts and Nevis , Saint Vincent and the Grenadines , Surinam , Venezuela and Honduras . Honduras was formally incorporated as the 17th member of the regional energy organization.

The Petrocaribe Summit had been an "extraordinary success" Ramirez affirmed, adding that Guatemala has also registered their intention to join Petrocaribe, and two other countries have expressed interest in joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a Venezuelan initiative, with the participation of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua aimed at promoting fair trade throughout the region in opposition to the free trade agenda of Washington.

Acting Cuban President Raul Castro also stressed the importance of ALBA and Petrocaribe as evidence that "a better world is possible."

"We truly believe in solidarity, cooperation and the joint capacity to develop our countries for our people," he added.