Granma.cu | BY VENTURA DE JESUS
President Hugo Chávez and Carlos Lage close Joint Commission on Comprehensive Bilateral Cooperation Agreement
Integration is not an illusion, and one expression of that reality are the ties of solidarity between Cuba and Venezuela, peoples that together form a single fist, just as Latin America will be one day, affirmed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in his closing remarks at the 6th Joint Commission on the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and Venezuela.
Both nations agreed to consolidate what was originally agreed upon and jointly initiate projects in many other areas over the coming year, as a result of the meeting that was closed with the presence of Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage Dávila.
Lage acknowledged the progress already made and called for a big push so as to advance even further.
“There is a great desire to continue driving forward this agreement,” he stated, after noting how the future and that better world that is necessary now seem closer, and confirms that the ALBA is opening a new road to the definitive independence of our peoples. “Let us march onward without delay,” he urged.
The Joint Declaration issued by the meeting was signed by Rafael Ramírez, Venezuelan minister of oil and energy, and Marta Lomas, Cuba’s minister of foreign investment and economic cooperation, who acknowledged the effort made over three days that finally led to the approval of 192 projects with a budget of over $800 million.
According to announcements made during the closing session, after five years of cooperation, mutually beneficial achievements have been reached for both nations. Especially impressive is the impact of the Barrio Adentro I social program, to cite just one example, which has brought medical attention to more than 17 million Venezuelans (approximately 66% of the population) through 142 million doctor’s visits and medical procedures that have saved more than 29,000 lives.
Thanks to the reach of Barrio Adentro I and II, noted Marta Lomas, Venezuela is set to become a country with the most modern healthcare services and social equity.
The Cuban minister also referred to what has been achieved by the Mission Miracle program, and the goal of a joint effort by Cuba and Venezuela to provide operations for 600,000 Latin Americans as a concrete expression of solidarity and integration.
Among the fruits of this fraternal alliance, many other projects and some of their achievements were also mentioned, and emphasis was placed on the fact that Venezuela is about to receive the high honor of a territory free of illiteracy, and thus to become the second nation in the hemisphere to make good on that social debt.
President Chávez described as positive the progress made on the Cooperation Agreement, and stated that the destinies of the Latin American peoples depend on its success and that of ALBA.
“Cuba and Venezuela have joined together, and at this point, the world should know that our fate is sealed, that these two homelands, which deep down are one, are opening a new road at whatever cost,” he emphasized.