By RACHAEL BOOTHROYD – VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM
El Tigre, September 18th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, landed in Cuba this Saturday after holding a ministers meeting in the presidential Palace Miraflores, in Caracas.
Morales arrived in the Venezuelan capital in order to pay an unofficial visit to president Chávez, who is due to undergo his fourth round of chemotherapy treatment this week in Havana.
The Bolivian president announced to members of the press that he was content to see Chávez “healthy and strong” and commented that the Venezuelan leader’s recent cancer diagnosis had been “an enormous worry for the Bolivian people”.
During the meeting between the two heads of state, Morales praised the regional cooperation achieved through organisations such as the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations). The leader of Bolivia’s “Movement to Socialism” party contrasted the mutually beneficial trade agreements reached through these initiatives with Bolivia’s commercial relationship to the United States.
“Before, our comrades in the textile industry used to export their products to the United States with preferential import tariffs. Since the moment we took an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist stance, they cut that benefit as a way of blackmailing us or teaching us a lesson,” said Morales.
Developing and strengthening the Sucre – a regional currency used for trade between members of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) – was another topic that was discussed at the meeting.
“We have to speed up the (development of) the Sucre system, encourage more exchanges, open up more ALBA shops, which can also be opened in Bolivia” said Chávez.
Both presidents also criticised the latest report from the United State’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), after the organisation listed both countries amongst those that had “failed” to collaborate in the fight against narcotics trafficking earlier this week.
“What authority does the United States have to decertify? Who decertifies the United States?” asked Morales.
Cuban head of state Raul Castro greeted the two South American presidents at the José Marti international airport in Havana earlier today.
Throughout the next few days the Bolivian president is expected to discuss the development of a series of bilateral trade agreements with the Cuban government, before flying to the United States to attend the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. During his stay in Cuba, Morales is also to receive an Honorary Doctorate in Political Sciences from the University of Havana.