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Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has lauded the PetroCaribe Initiative, noting that the agreement would serve to deepen and strengthen the bonds of friendship and the process of collaboration between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Venezuela.
“It also represents an important vehicle for enhancing energy security, promoting capacity building and accelerating the development agenda at the national as well as the regional levels,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister was delivering the opening remarks at the Second Energy Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Caribbean and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, this morning (Sept. 6) at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
The event is being attended by presidents and ministers of government from the 17 countries, including Cuba, which signed the Constituent Agreement for the PetroCaribe Agreement on June 29 in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela.
Regional oil ministers met yesterday (Sept. 5) to finalize the establishment of the institutional framework for the operation of the agreement, including the establishment of a Secretariat, as well as a proposed energy research facility for the Caribbean. There were also a series of presentations on renewable energy sources.
Last month, Jamaica signed the first bilateral agreement under the cooperation treaty with Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, which will allow the country to purchase 21,000 barrels of crude oil per day under specific terms and facilitate improvements to Petrojam. Other countries in the region are expected to sign their own bilateral agreements later today.
The Prime Minister said that the institution of the PetroCaribe agreement, which replaces the San Jose Accord and the 2001 Caracas Energy Agreement, was a manifestation of the vision of the renowned South American Liberator, Simon Bolivar, for a united new world.
He expressed confidence that the signing of the other bilateral agreements with Venezuela, would redound to the benefit of Caribbean countries and their peoples. For Jamaica’s part, the Prime Minister said the intention was to provide the quality manpower and resources to ensure the timely implementation of the programmes that it has agreed to undertake under the cooperation treaty.
PetroCaribe seeks to contribute to regional energy security while promoting social and economic development. Through PetroCaribe, Venezuela will sell participating Caribbean countries oil under preferential payment conditions as well as facilitate endeavours in exploration, refining and distribution of the raw material while supporting the development of renewable energy sources.
The agreement comes at a time when oil prices are at a record high and pose a serious threat to the small vulnerable economies.
In the mean time, President Chavez said the famous ‘Letter to Jamaica’ penned by Simon Bolivar, in which he outlined his vision for the region’s independence, was still relevant today and must be taken seriously by countries of the Caribbean and Latin America.
Mr. Chavez urged the leaders to strive to develop a strong union in the region as Bolivar proposed in his letter, as only then would the region experience political freedom to break the chains of poverty and slavery.
He also encouraged the leaders to come together to prepare for a future in which oil resources could be depleted. Mr. Chavez noted that although some countries are small, together they could be a force to be reckoned with.