Venezuelan President Strengthens Relations with Libya, Algeria, and Syria on Tour

On a diplomatic tour through
Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
visited Libya, Algeria, and Syria this week to concretize bilateral economic
and political accords and strengthen relationships among countries of the
Global South.

By James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (ABN)
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (ABN)
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Merida,
September 4th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - On a diplomatic tour through
Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
visited Libya, Algeria, and Syria this week to concretize bilateral economic
and political accords and strengthen relationships among countries of the
Global South.

After
commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Libyan revolution alongside
the leader of the revolution, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Chavez expressed his support
for unity and anti-imperialism on the African continent in a speech before a
special summit of the African Union in Tripoli, Libya."Africa should
never again allow countries to come from across the seas to impose certain
political, economic, and social systems. Africa should be of the Africans, and
only by way of unity will Africa be free and great," said Chávez.

Chavez also
met with the presidents of Niger, Mauritania, and Mali during the summit. He compared
the African Union's disapproval of the U.S.'s military operations on the
African continent through AFRICOM to the rejection of the increased U.S.
military presence in Colombia by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)
during a summit in Argentina last weekend.

In Algeria,
Chavez and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika drew up what they called a
"work map" for bilateral cooperation. Chavez invited Algeria, which is a member
of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries along with Venezuela and
Libya, to form a mixed enterprise with the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA
to exploit Venezuela's vast Orinoco Oil Belt.

"The oil in
the [Orinoco Oil Belt] is heavy, and Algeria's is light. There we have
potential to produce mixtures and improve our oil," said Chavez, adding that
cooperation in the production of natural gas, petrochemicals, the fishing
industry, and tourism were also on the agenda.

On his tour,
Chavez also promoted the South America-Africa Summit, which is scheduled to take
place on September 25 to 27 on the Venezuelan resort Margarita Island. So far,
fifty-four African heads of state have confirmed their attendance.

In the week
leading up to the summit, Venezuela's ministries of education, culture, women
and gender equality, and foreign relations will host thousands of diplomats,
university students and professors, politicians and cultural workers from the
African continent at the III Cultural Festival of the Peoples of Africa. The
festival's purpose is for the peoples of both continents "to recognize
themselves as part of the same origin, the same struggle for life, liberty, and
self-determination," according to the event organizers.

Syria

Chavez was
greeted by a large crowd upon his arrival in the Syrian province of Swaida. The
Syrian government named a street after Venezuela in honor of Chavez's visit.

In a speech
before the crowd, Chavez referred to the people of Syria as "architects of
resistance" to imperialism, and reiterated the need for Global South countries
to unite.

"We should
fight to create consciousness that is free from imperialist doctrine... fight
to defeat backwardness, poverty, misery... to convert our countries into true
powers through the consciousness of the people," said the Venezuelan president.

Chavez also
strongly criticized Israel's military occupation of Palestinian territories.
This policy, and most recently Venezuela's severance of diplomatic ties with
Israel to protest Israel's bombing of Gaza earlier this year, has garnered
strong support for Venezuela among many countries in the Middle East.

Syrian
President Bashar Al-Assad met with Chavez, who was accompanied by Foreign
Relations Minister Nicolas Maduro and Commerce Minister Eduardo Saman, to lay
out plans for a joint oil refinery that is to be completed in 2013, as well as
a mixed enterprise to produce canned olives and olive oil.

In addition,
Chavez proposed the installment of a branch of the Caracas-based Latin American
news network Telesur in Syria, "so they can watch the news from the Latin
American world." He offered the support of Venezuela's national
telecommunications company CANTV to improve Syria's telecommunications
services.

The Venezuelan leader will
now head to Iran, Belarus, and Russia, countries with which Venezuela has
already signed an array of energy cooperation accords, and finish off his tour
in Spain, where he will meet with Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero.

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