Caracas, April 21, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his Bolivian counterpart Luis Arce reaffirmed their strategic alliance and signed 13 agreements covering oil, gas, mining, education, healthcare, and culture.
On Thursday, Arce arrived in Caracas where he met with Maduro to lead the formalization of the accords. The areas of cooperation were established during the Venezuela-Bolivia Third Joint Integration Commission installed the previous day with delegations from both countries, represented by the Venezuelan and Bolivian foreign ministers, Yván Gil and Rogelio Mayta, respectively.
In a televised joint press conference, Arce said the agreements “marked the relaunching” of the countries’ bilateral relations and pledged to continue working with Caracas to achieve regional integration. “We want Venezuela to know that it has a great ally and partner in Bolivia, not just commercially but for strategical and long-term issues.”
The Bolivian leader added that his country was “very pleased to establish very important cooperation agreements,” mainly in the areas of energy as well as culture and healthcare. Arce added that the Bolivian people would begin training in Venezuela to specialize in different medical fields while knowledge exchange would be ingrained in every other cooperation accord.
“Bolivia has always been a grateful nation and we recognize the generosity and solidarity of Venezuela. With the spirit to achieve the integration of Latin America, we put this grain of sand to fulfill that dream and build that great homeland that we crave and yearn for,” concluded President Arce.
The signed agreements were headlined by expanded cooperation in the hydrocarbons and petrochemicals sectors in order to develop exploration, exploitation and refining projects as well as to strengthen the partnership between state oil companies Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB). The two countries likewise committed to addressing the challenges of the energy transition.
For his part, President Maduro stated that the oil and gas agreements signaled a new era of “strategic alliance” between Bolivia and Venezuela, urging the delegations from both nations to prioritize this branch of cooperation and “aim for results.”
Maduro highlighted Bolivia’s key role in the “South American energy equation” as a leading natural gas producer and supplier. “Venezuela has the eighth largest certified gas reserves in the world and could be certifying the third or fourth-largest gas reserves in the future. I say this so we understand the dimension of the strategic alliances that we are sealing today between the gas companies of Bolivia and Venezuela,” he explained.
Other accords related to cooperation in education, justice and academic matters as well as strengthening ties in mining, trade and commercial activities. Additionally, the two nations agreed on the protection and restitution of cultural heritage assets that might have been looted, trafficked, or transferred through illicit channels.
The new alliances included a memorandum of understanding between Bolivia’s ABI and Venezuela’s AVN state press agencies and an agreement for air connections.
Maduro reaffirmed that all 13 deals constitute “a step towards resuming the path of building a powerful relationship between our governments, our countries, and our peoples.”
The Venezuelan president bid Arce farewell by granting him a replica of the sword used by Venezuelan independence hero Simón Bolívar during the 1821 Battle of Carabobo. “Take this sword and go with the rebellious strength and revolutionary dignity of our Liberator to face the battles ahead of you and collect victories for the Bolivian people.”
In 2019, Venezuela and Bolivia’s diplomatic relations were interrupted after the violent coup d’etat that saw former President Evo Morales ousted from power. However, in October 2020 Luis Arce, from the socialist MAS party, won the presidential elections and restored ties with Caracas. This is his third official visit to the Caribbean country.