Bolivia and Venezuela to Form Six Joint Companies for Energy and Food Security

During Bolivian President Evo Morales’s first official visit to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s home state of Barinas on Thursday, the two socialist allies agreed to continue increasing bi-national cooperation in the areas of food and energy production.

By James Suggett- Venezuelanalysis.com

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President Chavez (driver) and President Morales in Barinas on Thursday (Prensa Presidencial
President Chavez (driver) and President Morales in Barinas on Thursday (Prensa Presidencial
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Mérida, April 30th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – During Bolivian President Evo Morales’s first official visit to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s home state of Barinas on Thursday, the two socialist allies agreed to continue increasing bi-national cooperation in the areas of food and energy production.

The presidents signed accords that will lead to the creation of six joint companies to increase exploration for natural gas, oil refining and exploitation, and the production of food, particularly potato and corn.

Venezuela also agreed to export asphalt to Bolivia in exchange for soybean oil, and to construct a petrochemical plant for the production of Urea, an agricultural fertilizer, in Bolivia.  

Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, already began exploring for gas and oil in Bolivia and exporting 300,000 barrels of oil per day to its South American neighbor as part of a 2007 energy accord.

The official visit took place in Chavez’s home state of Barinas, in which the Andean Mountains descend into the Caribbean country’s vast, hot, fertile plains.

Shirts soaked and faces covered with beads of sweat, Morales and Chavez toured Chavez’s humble childhood home, while the leader of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” told stories about the political history of the region.

“This was a guerrilla warfare zone in the 60’s,” Chavez recounted, referring to armed groups who fought against persecution by the U.S.-backed, neo-liberal governments preceding Chavez. “I was 6 years old and here there were people in these and other towns who went to join the guerrillas, and because of that, the empire put an anti-guerrilla post in the Marqueseña.”

The Marqueseña used to be an 8,490 hectare (21,000 acre) estate owned by a wealthy Venezuelan family. In 2005, the Chavez government purchased a large portion of the estate under provisions of the 2001 Land Law that allows the government to re-distribute private lands that are found to be idle.

The government used the land to found the Florentino Technical Center for Socialist Production, which Morales and Chavez visited on Thursday. The state-funded center demonstrated the results of its four-year project to improve cattle production through cross-breeding and artificial insemination.

The center is part of a food security and production network formed by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), a regional trade bloc based on the values of solidarity and cooperation, of which Bolivia and Venezuela are members. 

Sitting beside Morales, Chavez described the Florentino Center as “a socialist territory.” Visiting the center “was like a journey to the future because someday our entire national territory will be socialist territory,” Chavez said.

New school for people with disabilities

The two presidents also attended the inauguration of a public special education school named after the Venezuelan writer, lawyer, and educator Cecilio Acosta.

The three-room school, based in Chavez’s home town of Sabaneta, will be attended by 28 children and 19 adults with disabilities. It includes therapy and treatment facilities managed by the national public health care program, Barrio Adentro, which provides free, universal health care services.

During the visit, Chavez and Morales thanked each other. “Thank you for taking care of our friend, Chavez, who has become a commander of the liberation forces not only of America but of the whole world,” Morales told the local population.

“He is the world leader of the defense of the environment. A short while ago we went to Cochabamba, and people from all over the world came. Evo said it there, and here we say it on this land, which is our soil where we were born: Pachamama or death, we must save the Earth,” said Chavez.

The Venezuelan president was referring to last week’s World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where Morales, Chavez, and tens of thousands of climate justice activists and world leaders called for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and a transition from capitalism to socialism in order to stop global warming.

Thursday’s official meeting in Venezuela was part of the two countries’ agreement to meet three times per year to strengthen bi-national ties and defend their governments’ socialist projects from attacks by the United States and its allies in Latin America’s wealthy elite class.

Chavez also holds meetings every three or four months with the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, among others, in order to strengthen regional integration.