[Marxism] Chavez in the Caribbeans
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 leaders 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 governments 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 Caribbeans poorest
countries whose economy has also received
asphalt, university scholarships and $12 million
for housing through the Petrocaribe initiative.
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