Santa Elena, November 4th, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com)– In a diplomatic visit to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro pledged new resources to the island nation and proposed a special economic zone in the Caribbean to strengthen regional trade.
In recent weeks, the Venezuelan leader has visited Antigua, Suriname, St. Lucia and Grenada to discuss possibilities for a “powerful commercial economic zone” in the region, to protect against United States monopoly.
“Ideas for domination of our peoples are recycled, the old ways of domination now wear new masks,” warned Maduro, in a meeting with top government officials in Saint Vincent.
“We have what it takes,” he continued emphatically, pointing to the existing ties forged by the Hugo Chavez in creating the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) of which seven Caribbean nations are currently members.
Additionally, Venezuela’s PetroCaribe alliance has for almost a decade supplied 18 neighboring countries with fuel and favorable terms for payment, such as low-interest loans, while investing in community projects including hospitals, schools, highways, and homeless shelters.
Maduro checked up on a number of such projects initiated by his predecessor Chavez, including a $32 million fuel storage and distribution plant named after the late president, which currently provides energy for over 90 percent of Saint Vicent, according to official data.
The head of state also visited the soon to be opened Argyle International Airport, which received substantial support from Petrocaribe in 2008.
"There should be no doubt in our minds that PetroCaribe today is the backbone of the energy, social and economic development of our region," said Maduro.
The Venezuelan leader also said he was seeking a regional hub to serve as a center for construction of more than 50 homes, to be financed by the oil alliance. He also pledged 7,500 laptops to be distributed by the island nation’s government.
Despite their broad popularity among member states, ALBA and PetroCaribe have, however, met with US disapproval.
In January, at a meeting of Caribbean heads of state in Washington, US Vice-President Joe Biden called PetroCaribe a “tool of coercion” in the region.