Venezuela Proposes Oil-Backed Currency, South-South Alliances at Arab-South America Summit

During the second Summit of Arab and South American Nations in Doha,
Qatar, on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez proposed a new
international currency backed by oil reserves and an international bank
managed jointly by petroleum exporting countries.

By James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com

20090331_Qatar_summit.jpg

A photo of all the heads of state who attended the summit in Qatar Tuesday, except Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.
A photo of all the heads of state who attended the summit in Qatar Tuesday, except Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.
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Mérida, April 1st 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- During the second Summit of Arab and South American Nations in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez proposed a new international currency backed by oil reserves and an international bank managed jointly by petroleum exporting countries. Chávez also advocated the construction of a “pluri-polar” world order, which includes strengthened alliances among Arab and South American countries, to help emerge from the world financial crisis.

“We’ve had enough of the dictatorship of the dollar,” said Chávez.

The president criticized the decision of the United States government to un-peg the dollar from the gold standard in 1973, and said a new currency called the “petro” backed by oil reserves would provide a stable monetary alternative to the empty wealth based on webs of speculative debt concentrated in the United States and Europe.

In step with this, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) should found a new bank to hold the international reserves of oil exporting countries in this new currency, instead of the dollar, Chávez said. Chávez proposed an OPEC Bank at the OPEC Summit in Caracas in the year 2000, but the bank has not come to fruition.

The summit in Qatar is the first stop on Chávez’s diplomatic tour through the Middle East and Asia this week, during which he plans to establish a bi-national bank with Iran, discuss proposals for a new global currency with China, and sign an energy pact with Japan.

Chávez also proposed a “grand energy and food alliance” among countries at the summit.

The countries attending the summit included OPEC members Algeria, Ecuador, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates, other oil and gas producers including Egypt, Brazil, Bolivia, and Sudan, and members of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) including Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Chávez criticized his counterparts in Chile and Brazil for making too many concessions to the group of the world’s twenty richest countries (G-20) in recent weeks. He said Chile and Brazil’s cozying up to the United States and Europe “puts South American unity at risk,” and that solutions to the world economic crisis will not come from those who caused the crisis. “We cannot rely on anybody but ourselves,” he said, referring to Global South countries.

However, Chávez concurred with Presidents Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil on the need for governments to create joint and multilateral investment funds and strengthen South-South alliances to spur recovery from the crisis.

In their speeches at the summit, Lula advocated against “state protectionism” and Bachelet proposed investments in “clean technologies” that create new jobs.

President Chávez also echoed the Arab League in opposing the International Criminal Court’s order for the capture of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who is wanted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, related to what many world leaders have called genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Chávez said the ICC’s ruling reveals its bias against African countries. “Why don’t they order the capture of Bush, or the capture of the president of Israel,” asked Chávez, who severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. in September and Israel in January to protest U.S. intervention in Latin America and Israel’s attack on Gaza.

“[The ICC] does not have the jurisdiction to make a decision of such magnitude against a president who is still in office. Ah, but they do it because it is an African country in the Third World!” Chávez said.

The over-arching theme of the global economic crisis and the Global South’s reaction to it is the end of U.S. hegemony over the world, Chávez said.

“Every empire has its hour. The hour has arrived for the Yankee Empire to definitively fall,” he said. “We think this is a good opportunity to continue shaping and giving form to what some call the new architecture of the world post-U.S. empire... we must pick up the pace toward a pluri-polar world.”

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