Mérida, June 10th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — The president of the African Union (AU), Gabonese economist and politician Jean Ping, met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and other government officials in Caracas on Tuesday to prepare for the Africa – South America Summit scheduled to take place in Caracas in the last week of September.
"Venezuela and especially President Hugo Chávez has become a spokesperson for those nations that do not have a voice, not only on this continent but in the world, especially in Africa," Jean Ping told the press in Caracas.
Ping, who has headed the African Union since 2008, invited President Chávez on a tour of African countries, including Ethiopia where the AU headquarters are located. He urged a prompt meeting between the AU and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an eight country Latin American trade bloc initiated by Cuba and Venezuela as an alternative to U.S.-dominated free trade agreements.
Ping also emphasized the need to deepen ties between the continents of Africa and South America. "We have a culture, a geography, a past in common that we cannot continue to ignore, and cooperation has become vital," said Ping.
Ping and Chávez discussed commerce, education, health care, and the need to create a television channel based in the Global South, similar to the Caracas-based news station Telesur, to connect the African and South American continents.
"We become accustomed to listen as the North speaks," said Ping. "We must give our countries the opportunity to express themselves, that it be the South-South voice."
The two leaders also discussed the world economic downturn sparked by the collapse of financial markets in the Global North last year. "Previously they prohibited nationalizations, today however we see how they nationalize and those who attacked the state today are happy that it intervene to help them. There are lessons to be learned from this crisis," Ping commented.
After a guided tour of a Cardiology Hospital in Caracas, Ping said the hospital was "the motive of inspiration for other countries, a vanguard example" that would "adjust perfectly to the requirements of Africa."
Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro said next September's Summit between African and South American nations will "seek a joint vision between both continents," and "construct the basis for the pluri-polar world that has already been born."