Venezuela’s Chavez Talks Gas Cooperation, Climate Change During Visit to Spain

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
wound up an eleven-day international diplomatic tour with a stop-over in Spain
on Friday where he met with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

By Kiraz Janicke - Venezuelanalysis.com

chavez_enla_granvia.jpg

Chavez during his vist to the Gran Via bookstore, Madrid (Publico.es)
Chavez during his vist to the Gran Via bookstore, Madrid (Publico.es)
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Caracas,
September 11, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
wound up an eleven-day international diplomatic tour with a stop-over in Spain
on Friday where he met with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Speaking to
reporters on his arrival in Madrid, Chavez said the political, economic and
social relationship between Spain and Venezuela is very important and must be
strengthened "in conditions of equality."

On the
agenda during the meeting between the two leaders was a discussion on
coordinating international efforts to combat climate change and bilateral
energy and investment issues. Specifically, Chavez announced a huge natural gas
find off the Venezuelan coast in the gulf of Maracaibo, by the state-owned oil
company PDVSA in a joint venture with Spain's Repsol and Italy's ENI. The
recoverable reserves from the field could be around 1.5 to 2.0 trillion cubic
feet the Venezuelan leader said.

With
the discovery, Venezuela now possesses the fifth largest gas reserves in the
world, and the largest in Latin America.

Earlier
during his tour Chavez promoted the formation of a "Gas OPEC" with gas
exporting countries, such as Russia and Iran among others.

New
agreements between Spain and Venezuela were also signed in the areas of wind
energy and housing.

The two
leaders also discussed the recent coup that ousted the democratically elected
president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.  Zapatero reiterated Spain's defense of democracy and
condemnation of the coup, a statement released by the Prime Minister's office
said.

Zapatero
also offered to assist, if requested, in helping to ease tensions between
Venezuela and neighbouring Colombia.

In addition,
the EU-Latin America-Caribbean Summit, which will take place in Madrid in 2010,
during Spain's presidency of the EU, was discussed. Competing with the US for
economic and political influence in the region, the EU is expected promote a
series of neoliberal "association agreements" with Latin American and Caribbean
countries at the summit.

Negotiations
over the association agreements at last year's EU-Latin America-Caribbean
Summit in Lima, Peru, were largely stalled at the due to resistance from leftist
leaders such as Chavez, and Bolivian President Evo Morales, among others.

Ten
thousand social movement leaders from 15 different countries also held an
alternative "Peoples Summit" in rejection of the EUs efforts to "implement the agenda of
its transnationals and to deepen neoliberal policies." Trade-unions and social
movement organisations from Spain and the rest of Europe are expected to raise
similar protests at the forthcoming summit.

Chavez also
met with King Juan Carlos during his visit, joking that the Spanish monarch's
beard reminded him of Fidel Castro.

Chavez "revolutionises" Madrid

Spanish
news website 20minutos.es reported that Chavez "revolutionised" the centre of
Madrid when he paid a visit to the Gran Via bookstore, where he purchased, El Capitalismo
Funeral by Spanish author, journalist and economist Vincente Verdu.

Both
supporters, chanting ‘Viva Chavez, Viva Venezuela,' and opponents shouting
‘Chavez out' rallied outside the store, paralysing traffic for over an hour.

During
his visit Chavez also met with student supporters of Venezuela's Bolivarian
revolution.

Manuel
de la Fuente, a student at the University of Salamanca, called the international
tour by Chavez "very important, because there is a campaign by the
international bourgeoisie, by big business and the media, who have a strong
interest in defaming the revolutionary process in Venezuela.

De la
Fuente said that "the majority of young workers in the Spanish State and in
other European countries are in agreement with most of the things that
President Chavez in Venezuela is carrying out."

Jefferson
Cardenas, a member of the Bolivarian Solidarity Platform with Venezuela in
Madrid, said, "Youth and migrant associations view the Bolivarian process as a hope
for the people, not only for Latin America but for Europe."

Former
Spanish Ambassador to Venezuela Raúl Morodo commented on Chavez's visit to
Spain saying it was important because there is a process of change occurring
across Latin America that is not often understood in Europe where there is "a
conservative process."

"History has changed, now Fidel [Castro] is
older, the great reference point in Latin America today is Hugo Chávez," Morodo
said.

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