The fifth meeting of the Integral Cuban-Venezuelan Agreement Mixed Commission -held in Havana- resulted in 116 work projects in 15 different areas, including food, technology, health, education, sports, and agriculture. The Cuban minister for Foreign Investments and Economic Cooperation (Minvec), Marta Lomas, and the Venezuelan minister of Energy and Mining, Rafael Ramírez presided the event, with the attendance of 238 participants from 51 political and business organizations. Cuban president Fidel Castro attended the closing session.

With these projects for 2005, subscribed in presence of president Castro, the governments of Cuba and Venezuela will tighten their cooperation and economic links even further. Several of the agreements are in the health area, and include the supply of generic drugs, vaccines, medical equipment, and reagents for diagnostics.

There will be 33 technical consultancies in the areas of nursery and community assistance in catastrophes, as well as the joint development of a pentavalent vaccine, a program of integral attention to child neural development and impairment, and the establishment of a vaccine production center in Venezuela.

Other projects are related to agriculture and food supply. Cuba will provide Venezuela with technological equipment and start soy milk production lines (which will benefit 350,000 children). It will also cooperate with Venezuela in control of pests and disease, production of organic fertilizers, and the development of organoponic cultivation systems and intensive production orchards.

The projects also include industrial automation, computer science and telecommunications, environment, science and technology, basic education, culture, transportation, intellectual rights and tourism.

Castro expressed that the Latin American peoples today have an ineluctable need to unite in order to avoid being devoured by the great power centers, and affirmed that the flow of resources -in flights of capital- from the underdeveloped nations towards the rich nations would suffice to carry out, throughout the whole region, the social programs that the Bolivarian revolution has implemented.

“As a consequence of injustice and of the need of the exploited ones to survive, Latin America is now amid a deeper crisis, but its people are also more rebellious, and with more conscience than ever, in a context in which Venezuela stands out.”, said the Cuban president, who affirmed that it is not possible to go on ruling over 550 million Latin Americans and Caribbean with neoliberal policies: the situation in this hemisphere has reached a point of no return.

Castro complimented the social missions that today enable all Venezuelans to enjoy the rights from which they had been excluded for over 40 years by the governments of Acción Democrática and Copei.
He also pointed out the aid Venezuela provided to the Caribbean nations struck by the Ivan and the Jeanne hurricanes; this last one with its toll of over 2,000 dead and missing in Haiti, a country that “the powerful constantly invade, but to which they don’t even send a doctor”

For his part, the Venezuelan minister of Energy and Mining, Rafael Ramírez expressed his satisfaction for the “extraordinary results” of the meetings, which he referred to as “a leap forward” in the Integral Cooperation Agreement, subscribed by presidents Castro and Chávez in 2000.

According to Cuban official figures, bilateral commerce rose from 464 million U$ in 1999 to 912 million in 2000. In 2002, the total exchange was 744.4 million U$, of which 725.3 million were Venezuelan exports to the island. Venezuela supplies Cuba with 53,000 oil barrels per day at preferential prices; one third of the island’s total consumption. In exchange, Cuba cooperates with Venezuela in social programs.

Over 12,000 doctors and health technicians are now working in Venezuela supporting the Barrio Adentro program, which gives medical assistance to the depressed sectors and isolated areas of the country.

The Cuban minister Lomas indicated that “now we only have before us the challenge of carrying out what we have agreed upon, for which there is enough will power, creativity and constancy”.

Published in Quantum No.34