Venezuela and Argentina Expand Cooperation in Food for Fuel Trade and with TeleSur

President Chavez, coming from Brazil's World Social Forum, stopped in Argentina to meet with President Kirchner to inaugurate joint Venezuelan-Argentinean gas stations and to expand food for fuel trade.

February 1, 2005—Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met with Nestor Kirchner, the Argentina’s president today in Buenos Aires, where they formalized a series of agreements that the two countries signed last July that will promote bi-lateral cooperation in energy, commerce and communication, as well as “guarantee the path to Latin American integration.” The visit also advanced the proposal of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and the Caribbean (ALBA) and the creation of the South American television channel, TeleSur.

Chávez arrived in Argentina late Monday afternoon, after giving an inspiring closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, where he emphasized the need to “go on the offense,” advance the integration of Latin America, and adopt a “world-wide social agenda” for the next five years. In an interview on Argentina’s state-run television station, Chávez praised his Argentine counterpart, stating that the two leaders shared similar political views, and affirming that, “We’re from the same brand.”

During a meeting in the Casa Rosada, the Argentine presidential palace, the two presidents took an important step in advancing Telesur, a satellite news channel run by the Venezuelan state which will air within three months.  Kirchner committed his country to the project.  According to Chavez, Telesur will serve as a Latin American television station which will combat the private media and present a “Southern perspective.”

After the meeting, the Venezuelan President inaugurated two gasoline stations in Buenos Aires, fruits of a joint venture between PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-run petroleum company and Enarsa, the Argentine state energy company.  Chavez and Kirchner finalized an agreement allowing the Venezuela petroleum company, PDVSA, to establish itself in Argentina, open a chain of gas stations, and work closely with its Argentina counterpart in exploring, exploiting, refining, and distributing crude oil. Under the theme, “integration is a done deal,” the new gas stations will present the interlaced flags of Argentina and Venezuela and will use the commercial name of Petrosur.

According to Kirchner, this initiative is designed to promote an alternative for Latin American countries. He went on to emphasize that, “in this day and age, Latin America in general, and the Republic of Argentina in particular, live in moments of change and look to consolidate sustainable growth, increase the strength of institutions, attract productive investments, increase productivity, improve the distribution of wealth and create dignified jobs; unity is necessary to make this continent a land of peace.”

He pointed out that the agreements signed were “based on multilateralism, for the good of a new world order, and for the achievement of sustainable development and social inclusion…”

The two presidents considerably deepened the “Food for Fuel” agreement, a 240 million dollar initiative which began last April. Under this long-term arrangement, Venezuela will supply Argentina with 1 million tons of fuel in exchange for monetary compensation, grains, and 1,000 pregnant heifer, which will allow the country in a relatively short amount of time to increase its own production of meat and milk.

As the Venezuelan President watched the first shipment of livestock being loaded on ships destined for Venezuela, he commended this agreement as a worthy alternative to free market policies and as a way to promote South American development and independence. “We are giving shape to the ALBA,” assured Chavez. “We will send fuel to Argentina and they will pay us with pregnant heifers.”

As part of this agreement, Yadira Córdoba, the Venezuelan Minister of Science and Technology, and her Argentine counterpart, Ginés González García, engineered an arrangement in which Buenos Aires will export medicines, medical supplies, and an assortment of sophisticated equipment for treating patients with cancer, one of the leading causes of death in Venezuela. With the installation of this equipment, Venezuela’s capacity to treat cancer patients will increase by 60%. 

Chávez was accompanied by various ministers of his cabinet, including Foreign Minister Alí Rodríguez, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Rafael Ramírez, and the Minister of Superior Education, Samuel Moncada.

This is the fourth time that Chavez has visited the southern cone country since Kirchner took office in May, 2003.  He will return to Caracas late Tuesday evening to prepare for a summit with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe