[Marxism] Chavez in the Caribbeans

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Feb 18 07:13:32 MST 2007


Chavez tries to woo Caribbean
Leftist calls for anti-imperialist unity, blasts NAFTA, promotes his agenda
The Associated Press

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent - Venezuelan President 
Hugo Chavez on Saturday touted the fuel 
facilities and public works projects his 
government has built in the Caribbean in an 
effort to make inroads in a region where the 
United States has long been dominant.

The fiery leftist leader, on a tour of the 
region, also called on Caribbean nations to join 
his fight against U.S. hegemony.

“Down with U.S. imperialism! Long live the people 
of this world. We must join together and we will 
be free,” Chavez said at the site for a new 
airport on St. Vincent. Venezuela and its close 
ally Cuba have provided $200 million for the airport.

In a wide-ranging speech, Chavez blasted the 
North American Free Trade Agreement, which 
combines the markets of the United States, Canada 
and Mexico, and promoted his socialist political 
movement loosely based on the ideas of South 
American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

The crowd, however, did not respond with applause 
to the Venezuelan leader’s vitriolic statements.

Earlier, Chavez unveiled a plaque on St. Vincent 
marking where a fuel storage facility will be 
built and visited a liquid natural gas facility 
constructed under his Petrocaribe program. 
Petrocaribe, an agreement between Venezuela and 
14 Caribbean countries, offers deferred payments 
and long-term financing for fuel shipments.

U.S. still key trading partner

Petrocaribe is widely seen as a bid by Chavez to 
vie with the United States for influence in the 
Caribbean. The United States is the biggest 
trading partner of most countries in the region 
and their largest market for tourism.

Many Caribbean countries are still buying oil 
from elsewhere, including oil- and gas-rich 
Trinidad and Tobago, where the prime minister has 
resisted the Venezuelan initiative and traded 
barbs with other regional leaders over the deal.

On Friday, Chavez visited the mountainous, 
forested island of Dominica, where he addressed a 
crowd at a new fuel storage tank built by 
Venezuela, one of five facilities the oil-rich 
nation has pledged to construct there.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit also 
announced his government’s acceptance of a 
Venezuelan offer to build an oil refinery that 
would process some 10,000 barrels a day.

“We shall make no apologies ... that President 
Chavez is our friend and the people of Venezuela 
are our friends,” Skerrit said to widespread applause.

Chavez assured Dominicans that the construction 
of an oil refinery would not harm the ecology of 
the island, which promotes itself as an 
ecotourism destination. Conservationists have 
objected to the plan, fearing the environmental impact.

“We did not come to pollute your country,” Chavez said.

Dominica — one of the Caribbean’s poorest 
countries whose economy — has also received 
asphalt, university scholarships and $12 million 
for housing through the Petrocaribe initiative.

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