Brazilian President Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva visited Venezuela on Friday, strengthening economic ties through the signing of 12 new agreements with his Venezuelan counterpart, and offering support for the upcoming referendum in which Venezuelans will vote on a constitutional change to remove term limits. Carora, January 17, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- Brazilian President Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva visited Venezuela on Friday, strengthening economic ties through the signing of 12 new agreements with his Venezuelan counterpart, and offering support for the upcoming referendum in which Venezuelans will vote on a constitutional change to remove term limits.
Lula also informed that he expected the Brazilian congress would approve Venezuela’s entry into the regional trade bloc Mercosur no later than March.
“The House of Representatives voted in favor, and the Senate begins to operate in February and I think that they will approve the entry of Venezuela to Mercosur in March at the latest,” Lula said. The final remaining step would be approval from the Paraguayan Parliament, as Venezuela’s entry already has the support of the presidents of the four member countries.
“If we’ve strengthened our bilateral relations this much without even being formal members of Mercosur, imagine how it will be once we are full members!” Chavez exclaimed, after the leaders held their 6th Bilateral Meeting in the western oil-producing state of Zulia.
Agreements were signed in the areas of agriculture, energy, industry, and food security, including the construction of two cold-storage plants, and a factory to process tropical fruit, including training for Venezuelan personnel. Venezuela will supply Brazil with monthly shipments of energy products, totaling 240,000 barrels of oil, an additional 240,000 barrels of airplane fuel, and 120,000 barrels of liquefied natural gas.
Lula rode shotgun while Chavez drove a SUV to the inauguration of the government-promoted “communal city” named The Labyrinth, a growing agricultural community of 157 families, where an irrigation system is being developed with Brazilian technology.
“I saw the pride of these women planting tomatoes,” Lula stated during the visit. “I’m convinced that anyone who comes to Venezuela will see a process of transformation. Brazil will always be an ally of Venezuela, you have our solidarity.”
The two also inspected a 2,050 acre cattle-raising complex in The Labyrinth, which was supplied with what Chavez described as a “very resistant” Brazilian cattle breed.
Lula explained that “Venezuela is constructing a large food depot to give security to its people. The agreement we have with Venezuela is that Brazil is ready to transfer technology from the agricultural revolution we’ve had since the 1960s so that Venezuela can also create its agricultural revolution.”
Lula also commented on the upcoming popular referendum, which, if approved by voters, would remove the two-term limit for elected officials, allowing Chavez and other officials to run for a third term.
“The day the people decide not to vote for Chavez, they simply won’t vote for him,” Lula affirmed. “The people will decide whether it will be one, two, or three terms. Venezuelan democracy is unquestionable.”
The Brazilian leader pointed out that “No one is asking [Colombian President Alvaro] Uribe why he wants a third term,” questioning what he considered a double standard used against progressive leaders.
Chavez stressed his solid relations with his Brazilian homologue, noting that “before they tried to compare us, and now to differentiate between us, saying that Lula is the good left and Chavez is the bad left.”
Lula agreed with Chavez’s statements, adding “For the first time, elected leaders in Latin America have realized that alone we are weak and united we are strong.”