Merida, July 22nd, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez met with the president of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, and delegations from both countries, in Caracas. Despite historical land disputes, the two countries signed four agreements of cooperation in the areas of agriculture, energy and chemicals.
In the first agreement they agreed to exchange 50,000 tonnes of paddy rice for 20,000 tonnes of processed rice.
The presidents and the delegations also agreed that Venezuela would supply Guyana with 4,000 tonnes of urea annually, an important raw material for the chemical industry, and that Venezuela will supply jet fuel to Guyana.
Finally, they agreed to create a committee for prevention, research, and resolution of fishing incidents. The committee will be made up of the fishing authorities and ministers for foreign affairs and for defence from both countries. Security forces from each country sometimes arrest fishers from the other country due to a dispute over where the maritime border is.
Chavez also proposed a gas pipeline with Guyana as something to consider in the future and part of agreements signed with Petrocaribe, the Caribbean energy integration organisation that Venezuela initiated in 2005.
“This is a good example of how two governments, despite a historical dispute, are united,” said Chavez “They got it into our heads years ago that you [Guyana] were are enemies,” he added.
Chavez also told the press that Guyana had said it would like to participate in the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA) as an observer. “Initially as observers so they can attend the meetings, so they can join with the ALBA Bank and look for financing and solutions to the scourges of poverty and hunger,” he said.
Guyana is Venezuela’s neighbour to the east, and has a population of 700,000. There is a dispute over where the border is exactly, going back to a British government border mapping mistake in the 1830s and 40s. Other factors involved in the dispute include the presence of various metals, oil, and tropical hard wood in the area. Venezuela claims two thirds of the western part of Guyana.
Mediation over the issue has been going on for decades, and both countries seem relatively happy to leave the area disputed. Most recently, the UN General Assembly assigned Jamaican Norman Girvan to mediate. Chavez told press yesterday that Guyana would chose its representative to talk to with Girvan and the Venezuelan government has chosen Organisation of America States (OAS) ambassador Roy Chaderton.
Chavez met with Jagdeo in Guyana in 2004. Venezuelan presidential press said that in the first five months of 2009 the trade between the two countries was worth almost $3 million, 70% of that being Venezuela exporting to Guyana; mainly metals, chemicals, food and minerals. Guyana exported wood to Venezuela.