Mérida, October 24, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Venezuela proposed an assembly of all world governments to discuss the financial crisis, as an alternative to the meeting of the world’s 20 richest nations organized by French President Nicolás Sarkozy.
Meanwhile, Venezuela was unanimously elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and Venezuelan officials continued to fend off the blitz of international media speculation about the pending doom of the Venezuelan economy as oil prices fall.
“I spoke with Sarkozy; I suggested that we have a meeting, not only the big shots in the world, but an assembly of world governments, to listen to each other with patience and respect. But no, it appears they remain closed off in their world,” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in a public address on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Sarzoky invited the G8 countries, France, Russia, Germany, the United States, Japan, Britain, Canada, and Italy, to a summit to “refound capitalism,” then later announced that he would also invite China, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and India.
Also Wednesday, 177 out of the 184 U.N. member countries present at the general assembly of the United Nations voted to grant Venezuela membership in the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), according to Venezuelan Foreign Relations Ministry.
ECOSOC includes 54 nations and promotes cooperation international cooperation in economics, health, education, and other social policies of which Venezuela is a loudspoken supporter. Eighteen members retire each year and are eligible for re-election.
In an interview Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro said a diversity of viewpoints and new ideas will be necessary in order to manage the world economic crisis.
“The one-way thinking of the 1990s is over; now there are multiple voices,” said Maduro, emphasizing, “Children and women have been the most direct victims of the policies of the last 50 years.”
Venezuela and other countries must “unhook ourselves from the financial and economic mechanisms of domination of the United States over this continent,” Maduro suggested. He called Venezuela’s proposed Bank of the South an example of the “forward-looking vision of the new world that is emerging.”
Meanwhile, President Chávez outlined the trend of oil prices over the course of his ten-year presidency, arguing that the international media is mistaken when it suggests that Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” will be devastated by falling oil prices.
The price of a barrel of oil fell to less than $70 this week, after having peaked at more than $145 last July.
“I say, to keep pace with the great campaign that already started trying to foment fear and uncertainty among Venezuelans,” Chávez declared, “even if the price of oil were to fall back to 2006 levels, when it finished at $55 per barrel, you can be totally sure of it, Venezuela would continue growing socially and economically.”
Chávez pointed out that the Venezuelan economy grew by 15% in 2004, when the average price of oil was $32.8 per barrel, and has grown for five consecutive years, during four of which the average price of oil was lower than it is today.
“For 10 years they have been saying that the Venezuelan economy is sinking, and now they are the ones who sank,” Chávez said.
Finance Minister Alí Rodríguez, while presenting the 2009 budget proposal for approval by the National Assembly, predicted that the average price of oil next year will by $60 per barrel, and that the economy will grow by 6%.
Venezuela enacted a tax on windfall oil profits last year, and now reports nearly $40 billion in foreign currency reserves. Three years ago, Venezuela transferred 60% of its reserves out of U.S. banks and into a Swiss bank, and diversified the remaining foreign reserve deposits, which Rodríguez said has protected the reserves from the recent collapse of U.S. banks.