Venezuela & Bolivia: closer cooperation


Richard Moore

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Chavez Meets with Kirchner and Morales in Bolivia for Closer Cooperation

Saturday, Aug 11, 2007
By: Chris Carlson -

Mérida, August 11, 2007 (‹ In the final leg of his South 
American tour this week, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez arrived to Bolivia last
night to sign several economic agreements with Bolivian President Evo Morales as
well as with Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner who was also present. The new
regional agreements, according to Chavez, are part of a project to unite and 
integrate the region into a South American block of nations.

"We continue strengthening the integration of the South," said Chavez upon 
arriving in Bolivia. "More than the integration, the union of the South. That is
what we are doing, forming a South American political block as a counterweight 
to the hegemonic pretensions of North America or any other hegemonic 
pretension," he said.

Chavez is finishing a four-country tour of South America, where he signed 
agreements to increase economic integration between the countries of the region.
Chavez mostly offered to supply nations of the region with the abundant energy 
resources of Venezuela in exchange for investment in development and cooperative
projects. In Bolivia, Chavez and Morales signed agreements of a similar nature.

On Friday morning, the two leaders signed an agreement to create an oil company,
named Petroandina, formed jointly by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, and 
Bolivia's state-owned YPFB. Petroandina will extract oil from different regions 
of Bolivia as well as in the Orinoco river basin in Venezuela and will require 
an initial investment of 600 million dollars. Bolivia will have 60 percent 
ownership and Venezuela 40 percent.

It is alliances like this that Chavez claims will form the "skeleton" of a 
"great South American nation." Chavez said that many more projects will be built
on top of energy agreements like this one to further integrate the countries.

"We are all one nation, all one homeland," said Chavez. "Let's strengthen that 
consciousness, because from that consciousness comes strength."

The two presidents also made an agreement to build a thermoelectric plant near 
Cochabamba and Chavez spoke of the possibility of cooperating in the development
of a steel industry in El Mutin, a region on the Brazilian border with rich iron

"We are willing, together with Bolivia and hopefully other nations, to install 
ourselves there, not to take the iron from El Mutun, but to develop a 'steel 
city,' a steel industry. That is what is going to give Bolivia technological 
development, jobs, and more income," said Chavez.

Chavez also mentioned that Bolivia has the natural resources to become a "power 
in petrochemicals" and pledged the assistance of Venezuela in the construction 
of oil and gas refineries.

"Bolivia must develop a big petrochemical industry. It can't keep exporting raw 
gas like it does now," suggested Chavez as one of the many cooperative projects 
that the two nations could do in the future.

Chavez and Morales later met with Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner in city 
of Tarija, in the southern part of Bolivia where the leaders signed more 
agreements for economic integration.

In what Kirchner called the "first step" in the project to construct a gas 
pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina and Brazil, Morales and Kirchner signed an 
agreement to build a joint natural gas refinery in Bolivia. Kirchner said the 
project to integrate the region's energy supply "is going to be the true 
development motor of our nations."

Morales also showed interest in joining the project Petrosuramerica, formed 
between Argentina and Venezuela with the purpose of developing cooperative 
projects in the gas and oil industries and supplying energy to the southern 
nations. Bolivia's participation in the project will be its first attempt at 
industrializing its huge gas reserves.

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