The Venezuela, Cuba, and Qatar get-together in Havana
“Venezuela, Cuba Forge Anti – U.S. Alliance”, says the NY Times this morning:
In the last five years, Venezuela has become a vital economic lifeline for Cuba’s cash-starved government, partly filling the void left by the Soviet Union’s collapse with vital supplies of oil on very favorable terms.
. . .
PDVSA will make Havana the headquarters for its Caribbean oil refining and distribution plans. It signed an agreement with the Cuban oil company Cupet to build a lubricants plant in Cuba.
The Venezuelan company is also looking at building a super-tanker shipping terminal and a storage facility with a 600,000 barrels a day capacity at Matanzas, east of Havana, and the completion of a Soviet-built oil refinery in Cienfuegos.
PDVSA will consider off-shore exploration in Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters, where Spain’s Repsol YPF last year discovered a noncommercial deposit of good quality oil.
The two countries further agreed to undertake joint nickel and cobalt mining projects, improve communications and step up air and shipping links.
Venezuela increased oil shipments to Cuba to 80,000-90,000 bpd, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday.
Since 2000, Venezuela has officially supplied Cuba with 53,000 bpd [barrells per day] of crude and refined products, but exports have risen since Chavez’s consolidation of power.
El Herald analyzes the situation (my translation):
La presencia de PDVSA en Cuba tiene una importancia estratégica para ambos países.
Venezuela pretende convertir la isla en su centro de operaciones para el Caribe y Cuba se ha beneficiado de un significativo aumento del suministro de petróleo venezolano pactado en el Convenio Integral de Cooperación suscrito en el 2000.
”Estamos poniendo una base de operaciones en Cuba”, dijo el ministro venezolano de Energía y Petróleo, Rafael Ramírez.
PDVSA’s presence in Cuba is strategically important for both countries.
Venezuela aims to turn the island into its operations center for the Caribbean, and Cuba benefits from the significant increase in the Venezuelan oil that has been supplied since the 2000 Convenio Integral de Cooperación (Integral Cooperation Agreement).
“We are opening a base of operations in Cuba”, said Rafael Ramírez, Venezuelan minister for Energy and Oil.
There’s a lot of money involved: The Banco Industrial de Venezuela branch’s initial funding amounts to $400 million, for commerce not related to oil. Additionally,
El presidente del Banco Industrial de Venezuela, Luis Quiaro, explicó que la nueva oficina operará bajo una licencia extraordinaria, la primera otorgada en Cuba a un banco extranjero, que le faculta a recibir y otorgar créditos o financiación.
Esta semana, adelantó, se realizarán reuniones de coordinación sobre la financiación de este nuevo esquema de comercio, que tiene como base la Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas.
El BIV cuenta con una aportación de $200 millones del BANDES, otros 81 millones a través de Bancoext (Banco Exterior) y $119 millones en créditos para impulsar esta relación comercial.
Luis Quiaro, president of [state-owned] Banco Industrial de Venezuela (BIV), explained that the new branch will operate through an extraordinary permit, the first one issued to a foreign bank in Cuba, which will allow it to receive and grant credit or financing.
This week, he stated, there will be meetings for coordinating the financing of this new commerce plan, which is based on the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas(Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas).
The BIV also has $200 million in funds from the BANDES bank, $81 million from Bancoext (Banco Exterior), and $119 in credits for starting this commercial relationship.
Chávez wore red and Castro wore olive green, which I’m sure added to the festiveness of the occassion, and walked together for four blocks in downtown Havana. Walking along with them was their very-well-heeled friend, Sheik Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, vice-president of Qatar, in charge of energy and industry.
The NY Times article doesn’t mention the sheik’s presence.
Domestically, Venezuela’s Central Bank will set caps on interest rates, “increasing government control over an economy that already has state regulation of currency exchange, wages, and many prices”.
In the meantime, the export of revolution continues with Venezuela using its oil revenues to arm subversive groups around the region. Bolivia’s leading revolutionary, Evo Morales, is a Chávez disciple, coached and coddled from Caracas. Ecuador’s former President Lucio Gutiérrez fell last week due to popular, and mostly peaceful, protests against his Chávez-like consolidation of power. But there is also reason to believe that Chávez actors created the violence in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca in the hopes of further destabilizing the fragile situation to his advantage. My Venezuelan contact assured me that there is evidence of infiltration in the Ecuadoran armed forces.
He also told me that Chávez envisions an axis of power linking Brasilia, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. As it is, these populist governments aren’t much for standing on principle and anything anti-Yanqui scores cheap domestic points; some may even aspire to Venezuelan-style authoritarianism. But it is also possible that cooperation with Chávez is part survival technique to ward off his use of bullying militants.
It’s all part of the Bolivarian revolution, folks.
Also posted at Blogger News Network