Venezuela and Syria Create Binational Fund, Advocate Latin American-Arab Unity

President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria initiated a diplomatic tour of Latin America yesterday with a visit to Venezuela, where he and President Hugo Chavez created a $100 million bilateral development fund and discussed how to build more unity between Arab and Latin American peoples.

assad_visit_prensa_miraflores.jpg

President Hugo Chavez (center left) and President Bashar
Al-Assad (center right) (Prensa Miraflores)
President Hugo Chavez (center left) and President Bashar Al-Assad (center right) (Prensa Miraflores)
By James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Mérida, June 28, 2010 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria initiated a diplomatic tour of Latin America yesterday with a visit to Venezuela, where he and President Hugo Chavez created a $100 million bilateral development fund and discussed how to build more unity between Arab and Latin American peoples.

The fund is a first step toward a binational bank to finance social and economic development projects in both nations. The two leaders also discussed plans that originated in Chavez’s visit to Syria in 2009 to create a binational olive oil company, and for Venezuela’s state oil company to participate in the construction of a Syrian refinery.

In a public event with President Al-Assad and many members of Venezuela’s Syrian immigrant community, Chavez instructed his minister for science and medium industry, Ricardo Menendez, to work with the public Bicentenary Bank to give low-interest credits to Syrian business owners. Venezuela’s state-owned companies have created joint development funds and enterprises with scores of private and state-owned companies in Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East as part of the Chavez administration’s drive to form a “multi-polar world” that is no longer dominated by a superpower.

Al-Assad’s diplomatic tour through Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina was “historic” and “highly strategic,” Chavez said, because Latin American and Arab nations must unite “to form a new world pole of power.”

Chavez praised Assad’s leadership of the Arab world, drawing the link between Assad and 20th Century anti-imperialist and Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. The two presidents took mutual stands on a score of controversial political issues affecting the Middle East region. “We have common enemies: the Yankee Empire and the genocidal state of Israel. We have the same objectives: to carry forward a socialist revolution, placing the interests of our peoples first,” said Chavez.

The leader of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” also called for the Golan Heights, a former Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, to be returned to Syria.

Assad called for an end to Israel’s military occupation and blockade of Palestinian communities, and thanked President Chavez for his support in this effort.

Chavez is a staunch critic of U.S.-backed Israeli foreign policy. Following Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza strip in early 2009, Chavez severed diplomatic ties with Israel and affirmed his solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“What the Palestinian population in Gaza is living, is an inhumane situation caused by the Israeli occupation and blockade,” said Assad. “We want peace, but we do not accept subjugation or resignation. We only accept peace that returns rights to our people.”

To help advance this effort, the United Nations must be “democratized,” said Assad. He criticized the fact that the UN Security Council is permitted to override the will of the General Assembly. “The UN is an organization to protect the peace, however, it has become a threat to peace,” he said.

Assad declared that he started his Latin American tour in Venezuela “because it is the nation that is leading the fight for liberation of the peoples of this region.”

“Syria and Venezuela are peoples who reject any imposition from outside,” said the Syrian leader. “A stage of sovereignty is beginning, a stage to decide in favor of our peoples and nations.”

President Chavez made his first trip to Syria in 2006. He visited the country a second time in 2009, as part of a diplomatic tour primarily of African nations.

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