Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Paul Robertson, has praised the "excellent bilateral relations" developed over the years between Jamaica and Venezuela.
He was speaking at a function held at the residence of the Venezuelan Ambassador in Kingston on Thursday to mark that country's independence day.
Dr. Robertson said this relationship was well illustrated by the ongoing benefits derived under the San Jose Accord and the recently concluded Caracas Energy Accord, "both of which grant Jamaica access to much-needed, low cost energy.
He said that as part of the continuation of this friendship, they looked forward to the inaugural Jamaica/Venezuela High Level Bilateral Commission in the near future which would further deepen the ties.
To that end he foresaw an extended, mutually beneficial relationship, born of the historical commonalities between both countries and embodied in the example of the 'Great Liberator', Simon Bolivar. The Foreign Affairs Minister said Jamaica welcomed the reopening of Bolivar Square as "an enduring monument to our shared commitment to the independence and upliftment of our peoples."
"Even as we recognise Venezuela's nearly two centuries of growth as a nation, so too do we commend its current active role in international affairs," he said.
Dr. Robertson said he applauded, in particular, its keen support in matters concerning the region and the hemisphere such as the hosting of the ACS meeting in December 2000 and its important contribution to the Organisation of American States.
Venezuela's Ambassador to Jamaica, Rocio Maneiro, also spoke of the significance of the development of historical and cultural ties with Jamaica since Bolivar first penned the famous Jamaica Letters. She said it was only fitting that Bolivar Square in Kingston had been reopened to coincide with the observance of Venezuela's independence. Ambassador Maneiro expressed her hope that this also heralded further growth in trade and other relations between both countries.
Under the Caracas Energy Accord signed by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in October last year, the value to Jamaica is estimated to be US$14 million.
The Accord is renewable each year and gives Jamaica access to oil at rates between US$15 and US$30 per barrel. Jamaica is required to pay 75 per cent of the price up front and convert the remaining 25 per cent into a 15-year loan repayable at an interest rate of two per cent. The loan component is for the funding of development projects.
On August 3, 1980, Jamaica signed the historic San Jose Accord with Mexico and Venezuela, in San Jose, Costa Rica. This facility ensured an allocation of up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil each day to nine beneficiary countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
They are Jamaica, Barbados, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
The Accord gives Jamaica ready access to some 7.7 million barrels of oil, or approximately 21,000 barrels per day. Of this 5.1 million barrels of the allocation is from Mexico, and the remainder Venezuela.
Between 1995 and 1999 Jamaica spent US$2 billion on oil imports.
Taken from the Sunday Gleaner