Mérida, February 23rd 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Cuban President Raúl Castro and former Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba last Friday and Saturday to discuss bi-national relations and the international economic crisis.
An official statement released by the Cuban government said the meeting's agenda included "the fruitful links that exist between our two countries in many areas [and] themes related to the international situation, in particular the global economic crisis and its consequences for Latin America and the Caribbean."
Venezuela, an OPEC nation, has invested oil dollars and subsidized oil exports in economic integration initiatives with Cuba and many other Central and South American countries.
Chávez, who advocates "21st Century Socialism," says these projects are meant to help Cuba manage the effects of the U.S.'s economic blockade, construct alternatives to U.S.-dominated international financial institutions and free trade initiatives, and promote development in agriculture, industry, anti-poverty programs, health care, solar energy, oil refining and other areas.
The visit comes in the wake of a national referendum in which 54.9% of Venezuelan voters approved a constitutional amendment that abolishes the two-term limit on the presidency, governors, mayors, and legislators.
In a column published the day before the February 15th referendum, Fidel Castro expressed his appreciation for Venezuela's support, and said Cuba's future is "inseparable" from the results of the vote on the amendment.
Chávez was accompanied during last weekend's visit by Venezuelan Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramírez, Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro, the president's chief of staff Luis Reyes, and the vice president of the state oil company PDVSA, Asdrúbal Chávez.
Cuba has received visits from several Latin American presidents so far this year, including Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, Álvaro Colóm of Guatemala, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Martín Torrijos of Panama.