25 May 2016
Volume 39, Number 20
Despite facing political and economic turbulence at home, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has reiterated his government’s commitment to maintaining its arrangements with the region under its PetroCaribe agreement.
During a working visit to Jamaica and Trinidad on May 23 and 24, accompanied by a large delegation of his senior ministers, President Maduro also discussed new investment and trade arrangements under the concessional oil and development arrangement.
Speaking in Jamaica to the media, the Venezuelan President sought to allay any uncertainty about his country’s commitment to PetroCaribe, noting that both governments had discussed the need to strengthen the scheme.
“We are fully convinced that in the last ten years, PetroCaribe has clearly demonstrated that it’s only together that we can reach development and [achieve] happiness for our peoples,” President Maduro said through an interpreter. He said the PetroCaribe agreement has been successful in bolstering the economic and energy exchanges between member countries.
In response, Prime Minister Holness expressed appreciation for the programme which he noted had contributed to Jamaica’s energy security and social and economic development. “We look forward to the continued cooperation and collaboration between our countries, and reiterate our appreciation to Venezuela for their generosity over the years,” Mr Holness said.
However, the Prime Minister also said that Jamaica has been following, with concern, the political and economic developments in Venezuela, observing that his country would continue to be a voice of fairness and balance in the region.
“We wish for social and political peace to prevail, for the greater good and welfare of all Venezuelans,” Mr Holness said following his bilateral discussions
with President Maduro. “It is our belief that disputes should be resolved peacefully and diplomatically through dialogue, respect for democracy, rule of law and good governance,” Mr Holness said.
The Office of the Prime Minister also released a statement that described as fruitful the discussions between Prime Minister Holness and President Maduro.
This said that agreement had been reached to improve trade, especially through arrangements under the PetroCaribe Agreement. This initiative, it said, will be led by Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance and Public Service. There was also an agreement to expedite a plan to upgrade the 35,000 b/d Petrojam refinery which the statement noted was mutually considered to be imperative to the economic development of Jamaica. Additionally, there was a decision to strengthen cultural ties, particularly through co-operation with Venezuela’s El Sistema, the world renowned youth orchestra.
President Maduro, however, said that both sides had agreed to wait three months before a bilateral high-level meeting is held to conclude agreements on the matters they had discussed. He said however that in the meantime they would entertain close and permanent communications.
In Trinidad President Maduro and Dr Rowley signed a memorandum of understanding that will enable a number of cross border initiatives.
At a news conference in Port of Spain Mr Rowley described the talks as “very productive and very useful.”
He said that a memorandum had been signed that allows Venezuela and Trinidad to direct the operating companies in the energy sector to proceed on cross border initiatives. This, he said, “could see the monetisation of cross border gas, Venezuelan gas in Trinidad plants and together Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago approach the international market… for these activities.”
This is an extract from the Caribbean Council’s leading weekly editorially independent publication, Caribbean Insight, which provides in depth information on current economic, political and commercial developments in the Caribbean and news on events in Europe and the US that affect the region. Business people, academics, and those with a general interest in the Caribbean find it an invaluable tool for developing and maintaining knowledge and providing an insight into political, economic and commercial events in the region.
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