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Stand firmly against attempts to destabilise PetroCaribe - Cuba

Published:Monday | September 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

Cuba has served a warning to countries of the region not to allow any outside forces to destroy the PetroCaribe, a facility created by the late left-wing leader, Hugo Ch·vez, which the vice-president of the State Council of Cuba, Salvador Valdes Mesa, says deserves deep appreciation and gratitude.

Valdes, speaking during the commemoration of the 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government of PetroCaribe, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Saturday, said "any attempt to destroy or destabilise" PetroCaribe should be "faced with determination".

He said if PetroCaribe were to fail, it would only mean "greater dependence, destabilisation and division in our region".

The PetroCaribe agreement, started 10 years ago, allows participating countries to hold back up to 40 per cent of the cost of oil purchased from Venezuela to be used for developmental purposes.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson recalled that 10 years ago in Jamaica, Hugo Ch·vez, co-chairman of the PetroCaribe Summit, endorsed once again the Bolivarian vision "to put into use all the resources for public prosperity; to improve, educate and perfect the New World."

Valdes said PetroCaribe has been "the most effective pillar to ensure energy security in the region and contributed to the reduction of asymmetries and economic development of our peoples. It has been possible, thanks to the Bolivarian Revolution and Ch·vez of Venezuela, in respect to self-sovereignty, their solidarity and integration, driven by Commander Hugo Ch·vez's vocation."

"If all countries with energy resources or other do the same as Venezuela, [we would] live on a fairer, developed, equitable, united and peaceful planet," he said.

MODEL FOR COOPERATION

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said PetroCaribe is a model for the cooperation and solidarity that was the instrument which shattered predictions about its eventual impossibility.

"Today, we have a (hopeful) Caribbean. Today, we have a Caribbean future. Today, we have a Caribbean that has learnt to walk with their own feet, to think for ourselves and join hands to build their present and to build their future," Maduro said through an interpreter.

The Venezuelan president said while PetroCaribe has achieved much, more has to be done to "consolidate energy security from different sources".

His comments come even as Jamaica and countries of the region embrace a United States-led energy initiative.

In January, US Vice-president Joseph Biden invited Caribbean heads of state and government to Washington as part of his Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, which is aimed at helping to move small-island governments away from fossil fuels.

The White House has said that a concerted effort is being made to "provide assistance to Caribbean islands on difficult policy and regulatory reforms that can attract the private finance required to implement new energy technologies and approaches".

One such initiative is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which will dedicate resources to the Caribbean to facilitate deals that match US government financing with strong energy projects.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said at the PetroCaribe commemorative summit that "the future of the PetroCaribe Agreement is infused with hope and even greater possibilities".

"The establishment of the PetroCaribe Economic Zone and the Plan of Action for Hunger Eradication and Poverty are two major initiatives currently under way that are poised to strengthen the economic, cultural, social and productive foundations of partner countries," she said.

"These developments provide a clear indication of the expansion of PetroCaribe beyond its energy focus, to embrace critical issues facing the broader development agenda of the region," the prime minister said of a plan which Maduro suggested would require "a lot of political will" and unity for it to succeed.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com