Despite the ongoing uprising in Venezuela, its PetroCaribe deal with Caribbean countries remains safe.
Chargé d’ Affaires with the Embassy of Venezuela in Bridgetown, Francisco Manuel Perez Santana gave the assurance in response to regional concerns about the ongoing unrest that has been gripping the South American nation, for the past few months.
“The political situation in Venezuela did not affect the production of oil in our country. We are sending the oil that the Caribbean and that Venezuela agreed to send, and also the countries are paying [what they were due to pay],” the Venezuelan diplomat said, “the PetroCaribe agreement is still alive and will still be alive because it was created in the way that can help our brothers and sister from the Caribbean.
“It has nothing to do with the political situation because in the oil industry in Venezuela, the workers are revolutionary workers and they know that their work is needed not only for Venezuela but the region,” he explained.
The PetroCaribe alliance was launched back in June 2005 and is linked to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, commonly called ALBA, to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.
A major feature of the initiative is its payment system which allows members to buy of oil at market value up front for between five and 50 per cent with a grace period of one to two years before the remainder of the payment becomes due under a 17-25 year financing agreement with one per cent interest if oil prices are above US$40 per barrel.
Currently there are 12 CARICOM countries – Barbados not included – that have taken advantage of the initiative.
“Barbados is not in PetroCaribe. We were talking with the Government and they were studying the ways in which they can get on board. I hope that they can decide sometime to get into the agreement because it is not just oil; it is social programmes so that we can keep building houses and distributing medicine,” he said.
“[Likewise] in a general way, the Opposition is in the same [position as] the Government. They are studying, or they will study it because, even if the Government decides to join PetroCaribe, they have to be support by the Opposition in Parliament. Together they say they have to study the way to go into the agreement,” he added.
During a courtesy visit to Barbados TODAY, Santana, who has been the resident representative in Bridgetown since the departure of Corrina Russian in May last year, however revealed that there were a number of other areas of cooperation, which he would like to see explored between Bridgetown and Caracas.
“ [For now, we are looking at] construction and importing materials like marble. Barbados is growing in the construction industry, building hotel and tourism establishments; they need and are using marble and granite.
“We have a huge granite and marble industry in Venezuela and we are exploring [possibilities] with Barbados,” he said.
On the topic of democracy and the unrest, the Chargé d’ Affaires dismissed suggestions that the country was unsafe.
He suggested that democracy was alive and well, while maintaining that only a little over six per cent of the close to 30 million residents of the South American country were currently affected by the civil unrest in the country.
“They say 20 per cent of Venezuela is closed and not working. We know that it is just 6.6 per cent of the territory that the extremists have blocked. Over 96 per cent is normal. We have proof of the normal life, which the people of Venezuela live.
In parts of [the capital) Caracas, in the east, almost everything is closed but in the west, where they have the most important part of the population, from Plaza Venezuela to Caricuao, is working,” Santana added.