Hugo Chavez meets Lula and Uribe...
16.02.05 | This week Venezuela has played host to the heads of state of Brazil and Colombia. As is natural, each one came with his own agenda and with different purposes in mind, a mix of political, trade and economic goals.
Center stage for the Venezuelan president was his political agenda and its two aims: first, expanding his revolutionary political project throughout Latin America and, second, moving away from the United States, something that will undoubtedly be made very clear during his prickly meeting with Alvaro Uribe.
A weighing of the results of the Chávez administration’s relations with Brazil show that, insofar as Venezuela is concerned, the agreements signed are not very significant from a financial standpoint but are extremely important on the political front, given the backing they provide for Chávez’s Bolivarian project. Brazil, on the other hand, is filling its pockets. As the end result of six years of negotiations, that country has received concessions of all kinds, from electric power at subsidized rates, construction contracts without competitive bidding (line 4 of the Metro and the second bridge over the Orinoco River), preferential purchasing of Brazilian foods products, and the possible purchase of Tucanos training planes. The crumbs that Venezuela will receive in return are: joint construction of a refinery in Brazil –that may or may not be profitable—and the alliance between PDVSA and Petrobras, a company that has considerable experience in deep-water offshore drilling. From a political standpoint, however, Chávez received all he was striving for: apparent support for his South American integration project from Lula Da Silva, giving Chávez a second wind in his battle against the United States.
The case of the meeting with Alvaro Uribe is completely different. Although in appearance it may seem to offer a peaceful resolution, the underlying climate is still one of taut Colombo-Venezuelan relations. The Colombian president faces a tough counterpart. What Colombia mainly wants from Venezuela is for Chavez to adopt a more neutral attitude towards Colombian guerrilla groups such as the FARC and ELN, and resumption of commercial relations with that country’s second trading partner after the United States.
Chávez, stronger regionally after his meeting with Lula, may not be at all amenable to these requests.
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