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Venezuela offers assistance to Caribbean countries

Published:Sunday | July 7, 2013 | 11:44 AM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jul 6, CMC – Venezuela has pledged to offer assistance to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries in a number of areas including transportation, Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar said here Saturday.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held talks with CARICOM leaders during a near hour long visit to Trinidad where the regional leaders were wrapping up their 34th annual summit.

He left the meeting without addressing the media, but President Romator told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that President Maduro, who came to power following the death of Hugo Chavez in March, made a presentation to the leaders “offering some very concrete areas in which we could cooperate and Venezuela ready to work with CARICOM...including the vex issue of transport.

“He is ready to work and put some resources into transport issues, ready to look into culture, areas of health and other areas generally, but as President Maduro was saying he is ready to work with CARICOM in many of the areas we have interest in”.

Ramotar said that the half hour meeting also discussed the Venezuela oil initiative, PetroCaribe, “not in detailed way because as you know only recently there was a meeting of PetroCaribe in Nicaragua, but he is also willing to work in energy with the region”.

President Ramotar said he would describe the talks as “a re-affirmation of the Chavez policy” adding “that he is continuing that strong solidarity trust President Chavez had made in the past”.

He said there was a general consensus that Caracas needed to work with the region given its close proximity, adding “I think working together would help us to pool our resources on that regard”.

President Ramotar said that the regional leaders welcomed the support for transportation given that Caracas has its own airline, cheaper fuel and thirdly, they are also thinking about maritime transportation, moving around in the region with ferries and that type of things.

“Those are of course things that have not yet been thrashed out, but these are areas I can see where we have great possibility,” he said, adding that security was also another area for cooperation because “the fight against drugs affects all of us and drugs pass through the region, so that is another area we could have good cooperation”.

Prior to the start of the CARICOM summit here on Wednesday, regional leaders had been indicating that transportation would be the main focus, but Ramotar said he did not believe that consensus would be reached on the matter.

“I think much more work has to be done, I don’t think we would get to it to a conclusion either, but we are going to have to have bilateral and all that to try and narrow some of the difference,” he said, noting that among the differences include subsidies, which he described as “probably the biggest issue in the whole area.

“Those things I think we are trying to deal with them outside of the general meeting and probably get back to formalise a decision on that,” Ramotar said.