Venezuela Increases Collaboration with Paraguay As Lugo Assumes Presidency

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promised new Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo “all the oil he needs” during a public event on the weekend in Uruguay after Lugo was inaugurated on Friday.
President Hugo Chávez, alongside visiting Paraguayan President-elect Fernando Lugo in Caracas, threatened to close off investment opportunities to European countries that further criminalize immigrants. (ABN)

Mérida, August 18, 2008 (– Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promised new Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo “all the oil he needs” during a public event on the weekend in Uruguay after Lugo was inaugurated on Friday.

The initiative formed part of a total of 12 agreements of cooperation that were reached in the town of San Pedro, 300 kilometres from Paraguay’s capital.

Chavez saw the agreements as part of a “historic debt” to help with “the development of the Paraguayan people, their industry and agriculture.”

“Venezuela will guarantee the full supply of oil to Paraguay. All the oil that Paraguay needs in this century, Venezuelan has it and Venezuela guarantees it for the development of Paraguay.”

Specifically, the agreement raised the amount of barrels of oil that Venezuela sends to Paraguay to 25,000 barrels daily, up from the 18,600 of a previous pact. The two presidents also discussed putting a refinery into operation in Paraguay.

On Saturday afternoon both presidents participated in a meeting called ‘Latin American children and teenagers with hope of constructing change’ and celebrated Paraguay’s children’s day. From there arose the initiative to create a bi-national fund to attend to the main problems that children and teenagers suffer.

Lugo and Chavez also agreed to incorporate Paraguay into Telesur (Television of the South). With this decision, Paraguay is added to a list of countries that have shown an interest in receiving the signal and participating in the operation of the grass roots based TV station.

Another agreement was the creation of a fertilizer plant jointly with Venezuela to develop the region, “Surely San Pedro will be a backbone for the construction of a new agricultural potential in Paraguay,” Chavez said.

They also agreed to develop the “Mission Miracle 2’ project, by creating two ophthalmology centers in Paraguay. Mission Miracle 2 deals with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders and diseases.

Further, there was an agreement to implement a program of cooperation around nutritional security and sovereignty, another to create a national agri-ecological institute, as part of the Energy Agreement of Caracas, an agreement about communication and information, and another about the environment.

Chavez also proposed to Lugo to start a literacy campaign, in which Venezuela is available to cooperate.

The election of Lugo, a retired Catholic priest, on April 20 of this year, broke with 61 years of domination by the right wing Colorado Party. He won the presidency on the basis of his promises to fight poverty and corruption and has quickly become close to other Latin American left wing governments critical of the United States such as Chavez, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

The swearing in ceremony occurred on Friday, then after all the other presidents had left, Chavez and Lugo sang together at a festival in Asuncion and on Saturday they travelled together to San Pedro, one of the poorest states of Paraguay, in which Lugo served as bishop for over a decade and where the peasant and more radical organisations are based, frequently protesting and occupying farms to claim land to work on.

The only governments not present in the act of inauguration in Asuncion were Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, and Alan Garcia of Peru; the presidents considered closest to Bush.

The agreements reached with Venezuela were amongst Lugo’s first actions as president.

The ambassador of Venezuela to Paraguay, Nora Uribe noted that, “Paraguay has become part of the tendency of governments of the centre left, what is called the ‘axis of evil,’ which means that the people are heading toward the unity of all and to change.”

Within Paraguay, Ambassador Uribe has been publishing a quarterly magazine with the aim of combating the disinformation, mostly generated by the private media, about Venezuela.

She said, “There is a lot of interest (in Paraguay) about what is happening in Venezuela. People have high expectations of us.”

Chavez also requested the support of Paraguay for Venezuela’s entrance into Mercosur (Common Market of the South), which would benefit trade between the two countries.

The weekend of agreements was another step in Latin American integration.

Chavez called for the unity of the people of Latin America as a formula to be truly independent. “Our adversaries keep trying to impede our union. The ‘pitiyanquis’ [US government sympathisers] are worse than the Yankees, because they grovel, they infiltrate every one of these countries, bowing down to the Yankees and betraying their own people, planting discord.”

Chavez gave Lugo a replica of a sword of Bolivar, in a gesture expressing that Bolivar’s revolution has awoken again and is spreading across Latin America.

“In this beautiful town of San Pedro… I give you in the name of the Venezuelan People and of the Bolivarian revolution, this sword, which I personally call the ‘Sword of Liberty’. The original…is a sword that the people of Peru…gave to Bolivar when he returned after [the battle of] Ayacucho in 1824,“ Chavez said