[Marxism] Chavez talks of Cuban and Venezuelan confederation

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 17 22:52:01 MDT 2007


Chavez talks of Cuban and Venezuelan confederation
Rory Carroll Caracas
17 October 2007
The Guardian

Venezuela and Cuba have cemented their alliance with a range of
economic deals which President Hugo Chavez said could pave the way to
a confederation.

The Venezuelan leader wrapped up a three-day visit to the
communist-run island with agreements on 14 joint ventures, including
oil refining, nickel production, fishing and tourism. The package
consolidated Venezuela's role as ally and benefactor in easing Cuba's
economic crunch and boosting the regime's chance of retaining power
after the death of the ailing leader Fidel Castro.

Mr Chavez signed the deals on Monday with Fidel's younger brother
Raul, signalling a determination on both sides to sustain the
alliance despite the apparent lack of chemistry between the
Venezuelan and Cuba's acting leader.

Venezuela's socialist revolution was forging closer ties with its
Caribbean brother, said Mr Chavez. "Cuba and Venezuela could easily
form a confederation of states, two republics in one, two countries
in one. This is no delirium."

The former soldier, who was making his seventh visit to Havana, has
used his country's vast oil reserves to reduce Washington's sway over
Latin America and ease the impact of its embargo on Cuba.

Discounted Venezuelan oil and other deals are valued at around pounds
1.5bn a year, not far off Moscow's Soviet-era subsidies and a
lifeline to a government struggling to ease crippling fuel, transport
and food shortages.

There are plans to modernise the decaying Cienfuegos refinery so that
it could process 65,000 barrels of crude a day, distil gas and make
petrochemical products.

For its part Cuba has dispatched thousands of nurses, doctors and
teachers to slums in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other leftwing
allies.

In addition to socialist solidarity Mr Chavez's talk of confederation
stems from his dream of uniting Latin America along the principles of
Simon Bolivar, the region's 19th century liberation hero.

Nevertheless many middle class Venezuelans are emigrating over fears
of expropriations and socialist indoctrination in schools. Polls show
few Venezuelans want to swap their Americanised consumer culture for
Mr Chavez's vision of a "new socialist man" but that has not dented
his high popularity.

During a weekend meeting with Fidel Castro, Mr Chavez praised him in
quasi-religious tones as "the father of all revolutionaries" and "our
father, who is in the water, earth and air". The 81-year-old Cuban
leader, convalescing from a serious intestinal illness, looked frail
but alert.

A US state department spokesman said in response: "We are delighted
that Fidel Castro has had an opportunity to discuss things with his
friend President Chavez. It's too bad that in almost half a century
of misrule in Cuba, he's never had the same conversation with his own
people."

guardian.co.uk/venezuela ?





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