Venezuela and Iran Inaugurate Binational Fund, Advance Bilateral Relations
By James Suggett
November 26, 2009 - venezuelanalysis.com
In Caracas on Wednesday, Venezuela and Iran inaugurated a new binational development fund, signed accords that aim to boost Venezuela's agricultural and industrial production, and called Israel's recent declarations about Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran "a threat."
The meeting marked Ahmadinejad's fourth diplomatic visit to Venezuela. Since initiating bilateral relations nearly five years ago, the two countries have signed hundreds of economic cooperation accords that are worth billions of dollars, including a joint company to extract oil from Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt.
"All these efforts in the international dynamic grow and grow each day [and] seek balance in the universe. With the support of Iran, we become stronger," said Chavez, who advocates "21st Century Socialism" and the construction of a "pluri-polar world" that is not dominated by any superpower. "We are determined to construct a new model of independence," he said.
During Ahmadinejad's visit, the Venezuelan government handed over 4,000 three-bedroom apartments to low-income Venezuelans. The apartments were constructed as part of an Iranian investment that was signed in 2005. The Venezuelan government subsidizes up to 80% of the cost of the apartments depending on the income level of the recipients, according to the state television station, VTV.
"These are not bombs; our Iranian brothers are giving us housing solutions," exclaimed one recipient of an apartment, alluding to accusations made by the United States and its allies that the cooperation between Iran and Venezuela poses a military threat.
Similarly, Ahmadinejad distinguished between the policies of Venezuela and those of the U.S. in Latin America. "In Latin America, President Chavez is donating farms, plants, all of which is for the well-being of the people. Those who claim to be the seekers of peace and human rights install military bases," said Ahmadinejad, referring to the military pact that the U.S. signed with Colombia last month, which will allow the U.S. to expand military operations across South America.
"That is the difference between the good, popular leaders and the arrogant, imperialist leaders," said Ahmadinejad. "The leaders of Latin America and the South will not permit the restitution of the era of colonialism."
Chavez referred to Ahmadinejad as a "brother." He said Iran's support is a "blessing," and said, "Thanks to the help of Iran and of God, we will be triumphant."
The two nations also inaugurated a new binational development fund worth an initial $200 million dollars. Venezuelan officials said they hope the fund will increase to a billion dollars next year. The fund comes in addition to several billion dollars in bilateral investments over the past five years, and a binational bank that the two countries founded earlier this year.
Among the other accords signed during the visit, Iran agreed to help increase Venezuela's production of rice, vegetables, milk, corn, shrimp and other sea foods. In the industrial sector, Iran will invest in Venezuela's production of automobile parts, pharmaceuticals, and cement, and collaborate with Venezuela on scientific research.
In response to Israeli President Shimon Peres's remark that Ahmadinejad and Chavez "will disappear soon," Chavez called Peres's words "a threat," and said Venezuela will "act accordingly," but assured that Venezuela will only promote "peace."
"It is a threat. We know what the Israeli state is. It is a murderous arm of the Yankee empire," said Chavez during his televised reception of Ahmadinejad in the presidential palace.
"And they accuse you of being a war monger... the same happens with me, brother. In Colombia the empire is installing seven military bases, but I am the war monger," Chavez said to the Iranian president.
Last week, Peres said he thought Chavez and Ahmadinejad would disappear "not because any of us is going to kill them; their own people are getting tired of them." Peres also twirled his hand next to his head and said, "There's something in common between Ahmadinejad and Chavez, oil makes them think a bit complicated."
Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolas Maduro said Peres's declarations were "a direct threat to the life and safety" of the two leaders.
At the start of this year, Venezuela cut off diplomatic relations with Israel to protest against Israel's deadly assault on the Gaza strip.