Mérida, January 28th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Uruguayan counterpart, José “Pepe” Mujica, met in Caracas yesterday, to strengthen ties between the Latin American nations. They signed a dozen bilateral cooperation agreements, the bulk of which promote agricultural development, production and manufacturing. They discussed Venezuela’s pending “full” membership in the Mercosur Trading Block. This is Mujica’s second official visit to Caracas since taking office less than a year ago.
In the area of agriculture, Venezuela and Uruguay committed to establishing the institutional framework for the interchange of scientists and technicians, in addition to scientific information and agricultural products.
In 2011 alone, Venezuela is expected to 40 metric tonnes of rice, 20 metric tones of wheat, and 3 metric tones of frozen chicken import from Uruguay.
The Ministries of Agriculture of both nations are going to design and implement numerous development projects relating to rural development and family farming, as well as product transformation and registration. Genetic research and development to improve dairy cattle production was highlighted, as Uruguay is an international leader in the field.
An agreement was also signed to build two animal feed processing plants, one in Venezuela (Puerto Cabello) and the other in Uruguay (Nueva Palmira).
Other agreements signed include: the unification of Puerto Cabello and Nueva Palmira as ports of maritime entry; the establishment of a bi-national company for the import and export of goods and services; the development of actions that promote solidarity, “social protection and communal economies” in both nations; the promotion of cultural exchanges, including youth orchestras, within the context of fighting poverty and hunger; transfer of technology to improve production of electrical generators; licensing and importation of 1,200 vehicles built in Uruguay, 1,000 personal vehicles and 200 trucks; and, the formation of joint scientific research teams in Antarctica.
According to the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), Venezuela has exported 46 million barrels of oil to Uruguay since 2005 as part of bilateral trade deals. As reported by Venezuelanalysis last year, through the Caracas Energy Cooperation Agreement, originally signed in 200, Uruguay will pay a quarter of the cost over the course of fifteen years, with a two-year grace period and two percent interest rate.
“We came to Venezuela, among other things, to tell the continent that Venezuela should join Mercosur,” said Mujica on Thursday. “Venezuela must join Mercosur – if we don’t do it we are a group of idiots and anti-patriotic Americans,” he said.
Pepe Mujica is a former guerrilla ﬁghter who was imprisoned for fourteen years during the dictatorship in Uruguay in the 1970s, the majority of which he spent in solitary conﬁnement. During their first meeting in 2010, Mujica said, referring to Venezueal, that “No government, no world power, has offered the solidarity and acceptance that we have received from this country”.
The Mercosur trade block currently includes full members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Venezuela officially became an “associate member” in 2005, but awaits the approval of the Paraguayan parliament to gain “full member” status. Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru are currently also “associate” states.
Though Mercosur’s original goals were neo-liberal and “free-trade” in nature, a 2006 summit re-defined the process of regional integration as a means to promote integral development, confront poverty and social exclusion and based on complementarity and solidarity and cooperation.