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Chavez deepens Venezuelan investment in Cuba

Chavez deepens Venezuelan investment in Cuba

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez headed home after deepening his country's investment in communist-run Cuba this weekend, honking wildly as he drove himself to the airport and small groups of Cubans cheered him on.
Chavez and interim Cuban leader Raul Castro, who sat by his side Sunday in the open top four-wheel-drive vehicle, oversaw the signing of 14 new energy, finance, mining and agricultural agreements, including a project to expand an oil refinery in the eastern city of Santiago and develop petrochemical production on the island.
Communist Party newspaper Granma quoted Vice President Carlos Lage as saying that Venezuela and Cuba have signed more than US$7 billion (euro4.9 billion) in deals this year _ a figure cited by other officials in recent weeks.
The new accords come as Chavez continues to expand his oil-rich nation's largesse and influence across the region through cheap petroleum deals.
The agreements were signed Saturday in Santiago, where Chavez was led by Raul Castro on a tour of the military barracks that he and his brother Fidel attacked with a band of armed rebels in 1953, launching the Cuban revolution.
During the tour, Chavez repeatedly mentioned Fidel Castro, his 81-year-old socialist ally and close friend. Castro has not been seen in public since emergency intestinal surgery prompted him to cede power to a provisional government led by his younger brother Raul in July 2006.
Chavez met privately in Havana with the elder Castro for 2 1/2 hours on Thursday afternoon.
On Friday, he led a regional oil summit in the southern coastal city of Cienfuegos, and oversaw the reopening of a Soviet-era refinery renovated with Venezuelan assistance.
During the summit, Chavez talked up his effort to use discounted oil to build alliances in Latin America and the Caribbean and diminish U.S. influence. His so-called Petrocaribe pact sells subsidized oil to the region on long-term, low-interest terms.
Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East, is the fourth-largest supplier of crude to the United States. It sends nearly 100,000 barrels of subsidized oil a day to Cuba, and receives thousands of Cuban doctors to treat poor patients in Venezuela in exchange.


Updated : 2021-02-27 18:55 GMT+08:00