Cuba-Venezuela agree on projects for $1.5 billion US
By: Maria Julia Mayoral
The approval of projects with a total value of $1.5 billion US was the final result of the Seventh Meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Cuba-Venezuela Commission, which adjourned Wednesday evening in Havana. The closing session was presided over by Cuban First Vice President Raul Castro.
During the session a Framework Agreement was signed for the installation in Venezuela of 11 ethanol plants and the development of sugar cane production for that purpose. Venezuelan Minister of Energy and Petroleum Rafael Ramirez and Cuban Minister of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Martha Lomas signed the document in representation of their respective governments.
This program forms part of the joint efforts of Cuba and Venezuela to preserve the environment, reduce the use of fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources.
The alcohol (ethanol) obtained from sugar cane will be used in the mixture for producing gasoline, with proven economic and environmental advantages.
By implementing this decision, Cuba and Venezuela made good on their stated principle of not using cereals, like soy beans or corn, for making fuels, because doing so goes against the millions of people around the world facing serious food shortages.
Contracts corresponding to the supply of the first four ethanol production plants have been wrapped up. The documents were signed by Rafael Ramirez for Venezuela and Cuban Minister of the Sugar Industry Ulises Rosales del Toro.
The Final Declaration of the meeting was also approved and signed by Ramirez and Lomas. It contains a summary of the work done by the two delegations since the previous meeting last month in Caracas as a prelude to the Havana session. It also contains the final report of the results of the bilateral cooperation program of 2006 and includes a detailed description of the projects to be implemented during 2007.
The Joint Declaration was presented yesterday by Martha Lomas. She said the Integrated Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and Venezuela signed on October 30, 2000 by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez continues to grow every year in its scope, diversity and complexity.
The successful program has included cooperation in the fields of healthcare, education, sports, energy, sugar cane production, agro-industrial production, and communications and computer sciences and constitutes a valuable contribution to the development of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). Presidents Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have devoted great efforts to promoting the initiative that furthers Latin American solidarity and integration.
During the meeting, a photo exposition with graphic testimonies of the friendship between Fidel and Chavez was inaugurated. The opening of the exposition was made by poet Tarek William, governor of the Venezuelan state of Anzoategui.
The adjourning session that took place at the Havana Convention Center was also attended by Carlos Lage, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers; Bruno Rodriguez, acting Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister; Ali Rodriguez, the Cuban ambassador to Venezuela; German Sanchez, the Venezuelan ambassador in Cuba; and a large group of ministers, deputy ministers, state governors and business executives from Venezuela, along with officials from the Communist Party of Cuba and from the Cuban government.