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The attendance of over 1,300 entrepreneurs to this fifth encounter was the starting point of the dialogue between businessmen and the government, in pursuit of the consolidation of a strategic alliance to help build a prosperous and independent country. The relevance of this event will undoubtedly ease tensions in the political atmosphere.

During the encounter called The president speaks with the entrepreneurs, held last September 8th,Chávez referred to the several conditions imposed by Fedecámaras, and pointed out that “for the sake of dignity, I will not hold a dialogue with anyone who throws stones at the Presidency”

Chávez expressed that "what I ask for, is that we generate encounters and debate in the agora over several topics and with no predetermined conditioning". The president said that "the government and the businessmen are together in the nation’s social commitment", and announced three more events for the debate over new business projects, like the ones held in Maracaibo, Puerto La Cruz, and Caracas.

The head of state assured that "the consistency and celerity of Venezuela’s economic recovery in most areas has been acknowledged worldwide" after the macroeconomic and microeconomic recuperation from the effects of the oil sabotage in December of 2002.He added that "Venezuela’s vigorous economic recovery is a reality that has been recognized throughout the world. Some still talk about an economic rebound; even some analysts whose opinions are regarded as sacred still talk about an economic “rebound”(and not a result of sound economic decisions by the government, in this case); and then comes a youngster like Tobías Nóbrega to give them a lecture on the non existence of that theory elsewhere in the world. The rebound theory was invented here"

The president expressed that "let those who want to remain in the labyrinth of death, with no way out, remain there. I invite us all to continue building the country we dream of (...) I call upon everybody’s intelligence, because some of those who have been deceiving an important number of Venezuelan men and women had also deceived me for quite some time".

Chávez expressed his infinite gratefulness “to the once called Democratic Coordinator, (the alliance of several parties that coordinated most, if not all, of the opposition’s efforts) for having demanded the referendum; because thanks to it, the Venezuelan government has gotten new worldwide acknowledgement”. He said that “we should take advantage of this favorable juncture for Venezuela; not for Chávez, nor for the government, but for the whole country. He explained that the atmosphere is propitious for business and investment opportunities in South America -Colombia; Argentina, Brazil- as well as in other continents.

“In a few days, we will be visiting Manaos with president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Brazilian businessmen. I am very happy because 50 Venezuelan businessmen are coming with us; and I wonder, why not a hundred?. Let’s go to the Amazon to speak with Lula and the Brazilian businessmen. They insist on a project for Brazil, and insist on the complete integration of South America. That is our direction; not the North; it’s the South”

He added that “our visits to China, Iran, Russia, Iran and Spain are already in agenda. I invite you all. Let’s meet the world. I want to go there not only with ministers. I want to arrive there and say ’here are the businessmen from my country who want to do to do business and form strategic alliances here. Let’s go. We have the means to go with, and what to go for.”Chávez mentioned that “we should also go to North America; being courteous does not mean being less courageous. We are very interested in improving social, political, and economic relations with the U.S..

No one is relegating the importance of this matter.” He pointed out that the Venezuelan government has listened, with much interest, to the most recent declarations by the undersecretary of State for Latin America. A new ambassador has been appointed. I think that he’s already in Venezuela. I’m sure that he’s come with clear indications about the need, as several Washington spokesmen have expressed, for recognizing Venezuelan reality, and that this is a serious country with a legitimate government, and that we have common interests.”

Chávez assured that Venezuela will continue to supply the U.S. with oil, “now that the cold season is approaching, many North American families rely on Venezuelan fuel for their heating, vehicles, planes, and manufacturing plants. We are interested in continuing our sales and in increasing our sales; not only of oil, but also of many other things that are the product of this economy that we have begun to recover and that we must diversify even further”

For his part, the minister of planning, Jorge Giordani, explained that the economic program for the 2005-2006 period foresees medium term growth, through a reconversion plan that will improve the productive capacity installed in the country, and update the agro-industrial sector, among others, which will guarantee re-industrialization and thus productive diversification, as the basis for the consolidation of economic growth. Giordani analyzed the results of the economic programs implemented up to this date and the way the state and private business should work together in order to achieve the consolidation and the transformation of the economy.

Giordani indicated that this production diversification phase of the economy, will be under the guidelines of an expansive economic policy, with more incentives for, and greater development of agricultural, industrial, mining, and hydrocarbon chains of production, as a way of building up an industrial network that strengthens the economy.

The goal of this policy is the well being of the population through social equity; and that is why it stresses endogenous (originating from within) development that will generate jobs and contribute to the consolidation of the nation’s economic independence.

According to Giordani, if today’s oil income remains at the same level, the government will continue its firm support of the social programs. He assured that the present stability of the currency exchange, and the diminution of the country risk are further reasons for the government to incorporate the majorities into the country’s productive processes and thus achieve social justice.

The minister pointed out that during the first semester of the year, the non oil private sector contributed positively with a 13.1% growth of the GNP. Since this behavior was similar to that in other sectors, he concludes that it is proper to consider that the contraction period of the economic cycle has come to an end.

Published in Quantum No 31