Caracas, 17 October 2005—Venezuela’s President Chavez declared that the 15th Ibero-American Summit in Salamanca, Spain held on October 14 and 15, was the one, “with the most advances and achievements.” The leaders of the Ibero-American countries present called for the end of the US blockade of Cuba and the extradition of wanted militant Luis Posada Carriles. The host country Spain also agreed a technology cooperation agreement with Venezuela over naval development and to sell Venezuela several naval vessels.
All the leaders present unanimously supported a Special Communiqué calling on the US Government to stop its sanctions on Cuba. The heads of state present included the leaders of Spain, Portugal, all the Latin American states except for Ecuador and Nicaragua, whose presidents were dealing with the damage of hurricane Stan, and Fidel Castro. President Vincent Fox of Mexico was one of many leaders who said that he wanted the Cuban blockade to end. He said that with Cuba, “a blockade is not the way to resolve the political situation.” Several hundred Spaniards demonstrated in support of Cuba and Venezuela in Salamanca as the conference took place.
Also included in the Special Communiqué was the call for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela to be tried for terrorism. Former CIA operative, Louis Posada is wanted for the bombing of a 1976 Cuban airliner and is currently in detention in the US for having violated immigration procedures. His extradition to Venezuela was recently refused by a US court on the grounds that he might be tortured there.
The US Embassy in Madrid expressed its regrets at the communiqué, saying that it was giving support to the “Cuban dictatorship.” Some NGOs such as Reporters Without Borders also criticized the request, saying the, “leaders adopted two resolutions in support of the Cuban government without getting anything in return on human rights.”
Spanish-Venezuelan Naval Cooperation
During the same conference, Venezuela and Spain agreed to cooperate on developing Naval and Aerial technology. Vice-Admiral Armando Laguna Laguna said, “We are looking to develop the Venezuelan naval industry through technology transfers with friendly countries .” In Salamanca he announced that there would be technology transfers to build a shipyard in Puerto Cabello in Carabobo state and that the opportunities for naval technology development would increase. The Spanish government has also agreed to sell Venezuela 4 coastal patrol units and a similar quantity of ocean patrol vehicles.
The stated intention of these is to improve the ability of Venezuela’s Navy and Air Force to patrol the country’s vast coastline and interior. The US government has raised concerns with Spain about any American military technology being shared with Venezuela as a result of the cooperation. President Chavez tried to assure journalists at the conference that the purpose of the co-operation was peaceful. He said that the technology, “will be very useful for our fisherman,” although he also maintained, “countries do have the right of self defense.”
Oil and Private Property
Hugo Chavez also spoke about some aspects of Venezuelan domestic policy while in Spain, such as the question of property rights and oil production. He said that property rights had not been violated in Venezuela and that the expropriations that had taken place so far had been within Venezuelan law and the constitution. President Chavez said that there was confusion over this issue because of, “alarmist” media reports. He insisted that the appropriations were vital in the search for Venezuelan, “sovereignty and food security.”
President Chavez also said that Venezuela was not responsible for the high global price of oil. In Spain he said, “The whole world right now is producing petroleum at its maximum capacity,” and, “In Venezuela, for example, we can’t produce a single barrel more.” Chavez also said, “The cause of the increase in the price is not in the production. It’s partly the intermediaries who make things dearer. It’s also because of the increase in demand and the irrational capitalist consumerist model,” he said.Other issues discussed at the Ibero-American Summit included the devastation caused in Central America by Hurricane Stan and what was needed to help in that situation, the promotion of education, and the problems of governance in Haiti as well as the strengthening of democracy in Bolivia and the continent-wide struggle against poverty.