Final Declaration from the First Cuba-Venezuela Meeting for the Application of the ALBA

By: Venezuelan and Cuban delegations

The delegations of Cuba and Venezuela meeting in Havana, Cuba on April 27 and 28, 2005, and inspired by the historical Joint Statement and the Agreement for a Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), signed by Hugo Chávez Frías, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and President Fidel Castro Ruz, president of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba, have drawn up and approved a Strategic Plan for the application of ALBA, in accordance with the Article 3 of the above-mentioned agreement.

The article establishes: "The two countries will produce a strategic plan to guarantee the most beneficial productive complementation on the bases of rationality, exploiting existing advantages on one side or the other, saving resources, extending useful employment, access to markets or any other consideration sustained in genuine solidarity that will promote the strengths of the two countries."

The Strategic Plan agreed envisages the following among the most relevant actions:

• Inaugurating this year in Venezuela 600 Integral Diagnostic Centers; 600 Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Departments and 35 High Technology Centers offering professional healthcare services free of charge to the Venezuelan population.

• The training of 40,000 doctors and 5,000 health technology specialists in Venezuela within the Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood) II health care program for the poor.

• The training in Cuba of 10,000 graduates from the Mission Ribas (preparation of high school students for university education) program in the areas of Medicine and Nursing, who will be deployed throughout the country’s polyclinics and hospitals and will stay in the homes of Cuban families.

• Cuba will continue its contribution to the development of Plans Barrio Adentro I and II, through which up to 30,000 Cuban doctors and other healthcare workers located throughout Venezuela will lend their services by the end of the second semester of this year.

• This year in Cuba, 100,000 Venezuelans with a variety of eye conditions are to receive surgical treatment. To that effect, the conditions have been created within hospitals to provide the most modern and sophisticated methods available as well as living conditions to ensure a comfortable stay. Likewise, Cuba will maintain its support in order to contribute to the success of the special Bolivarian programs, including:

• Mission Robinson I, through which Venezuela will soon declare itself the second illiteracy-free territory in the American continent, having taught 1.46 million Venezuelans how to read and write.

• Mission Robinson II, within which some 1.262 million Venezuelans are continuing their studies to sixth-grade level.

• Mission Ribas, educating high school students to give them access to university education; an opportunity for young Venezuelans offered by the Bolivarian Revolution. To that respect, the fulfillment of the Scholarship Plan offered by Cuba is to be promoted.

• Mission Sucre for the universalization of higher education.

• Mission Vuelvan Caras to train specialized workers and provide them with new sources of employment.

• In addition, the two countries will work on the design of a continental project to eliminate illiteracy in Latin America. Medical treatment of Venezuelan patients in Cuba is to be maintained. By the end of 2004, the number of patients treated stood at 7,793, accompanied by 6,567 relatives or friends, who benefited from highly specialized services including cardiovascular surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and organ transplants. It is anticipated that this year, the program will include a further 3,000 patients and their companions.

In the economic and commercial sector, the Strategic Plan also covers concrete plans as well as projects which we are jointly proposing to develop in the immediate future.

Today saw the inauguration, by the presidents of the two countries, of the Venezuela Petróleos S.A. Office in Havana – PDVSA in Cuba – whose social objective is the exploration and exploitation, refining, importation, exportation and commercialization of hydro-carbons and their derivatives, as well its transportation and storage.

Also inaugurated in Havana was a 100%-Venezuelan subsidiary of the Industrial Bank of Venezuela, and the opening in Caracas of a 100%-Cuban subsidiary of the Foreign Bank of Cuba has been approved. The two state institutions will make a significant contribution to the sustained increase in economic relations and bilateral trade, which have already begun to materialize.

The 3rd Meeting of the Administrative Commission of the Economic Complementation Agreement decided to grant preferential tariffs to 104 new lines of Cuban exports and a timetable for progressive tax relief, for those as well as existing preferences. In all cases, Venezuelan commitments as laid out in the Agreement between the Andean Community of Nations and MERCOSUR have been taken into account.

For its part, Cuba issued Joint Resolution No. 6 from the Ministries of Finance and Prices and Foreign Trade, which exempts from taxes on profits companies owning or utilizing vessels of Venezuelan flag, and participating in the transportation of passengers or cargo on national territory, and from the payment of tonnage rights for Venezuelan vessels arriving in Cuban ports from abroad.

Cuba is to acquire the initial sum of $412 million in Venezuelan items with productive purposes, as well as those manufactured for social use or for direct consumption by the population, which will have a positive effect on generating employment in Venezuela, leading to the creation of some 100,000 new jobs. These goods will be on offer on the Cuban market, with preferential treatment within the policy of economic and social development and elevating the living standard of the Cuban people.

In the process of preparing this first ALBA meeting, the two delegations also identified 11 projects for the establishment of joint ventures and other methods of economic complementation in Cuba and Venezuela which will be progressively formalized once studies underway confirm their economic viability.

In that regard, this afternoon (yesterday), the following agreements were signed:

• A memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a strategic alliance for iron and steel development in Venezuela and for the coordination of a bilateral enterprise oriented toward the recovery of raw materials.

• Letters of intent for the foundation of a joint business directed at the improvement of the railway infrastructure of both countries; the fostering of integration in the area of maritime transportation; the constitution of a bilateral enterprise to promote agricultural development; the enlargement of the supertanker base in Matanzas; the creation of a joint strategic alliance with the goal of developing nickel and cobalt mining projects in the regions of Aragua, Carabobo and Cojedes; the repair and construction of sea vessels; the creation of a Cuban-Venezuelan mixed enterprise for the production of sports equipment and another for fuel transportation.

Likewise, it was agreed to work toward the organization and implementation of nine projects for endogenous development in both countries, including:

• An endogenous development project in the state of Barinas; "Hato Caucagua," in the state of Apure; a Hotel Sheraton, Melía Miramar and School of Tourism in the state of Vargas; "Santa Rita" Zamorano Farm in Apure state and Ciudad Vacacional de los Caracas (Vacation City of Los Caracas) in the state of Vargas.

• In Cuba, endogenous projects will be developed in the Higher Institute of Agricultural Science in Havana (ISCAH) for the training of young Cubans and thousands of experts and professionals from the Venezuelan agricultural sector, as well as those from the communities of Bolívar, Sandino and Martí, in the Sandino municipality of Pinar del Río province.

Among other documents signed after two intense days of meetings, especially notable are:

• Three agreements between the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the government of the Republic of Cuba, related to air transportation, maritime transportation and the establishment and operation of a shipyard for the repair and construction of small naval units.

• Bilateral agreements in the areas of plant and animal health.

• Agreements, framework contracts and memorandums of understanding in tourism, information technology, communications; transportation, communication and information; education and sports; biodiversity, the environment, science and technology; hydraulic resources and construction.

• Memorandums of understanding between Venezuela’s Ministries of Popular Economy and Light and Commercial Industry and Cuba’s Ministry of Domestic Trade.

• A framework agreement, contracts for the buying and selling of crude oil and the warehousing of crude oil and its derivatives, and letters of intent for the restoration of the Cienfuegos Refinery and for technology transfers between PDVSA and CUPET.

• A framework agreement for cooperation in the electrical energy industry, and for cooperation in the energy sector.

• An international agreement on construction between the Venezuelan Ministry of Habitat and Housing and the Cuban Ministry of Construction.

• Agreements in the civil aeronautics sector.

• An agreement to convene the 1st Latin American and Caribbean Integration Games, to take place in Cuba June 17-30, 2005.

• An agreement for Venezuela’s utilization of Cuba’s anti-doping laboratory and the beginning of construction of a similar facility in Venezuela.

• A framework agreement between the organizing committees of both countries for the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Venezuela.

• Agreements between the two countries’ Ministries of Foreign Affairs for the promotion of ALBA in international agencies, including – among other initiatives – its presentation at the 2nd South Summit, scheduled for Qatar in June 2005, and at the High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly in September of the same year.

In all, including government agreements, letters of intent, memorandums of understanding, contracts and framework agreements, 40 documents were signed.

Also, as part of the Strategic Plan, the 1st Conference for Caribbean Integration in the Sports Sector took place in Caracas in March, with the participation of 10 Central American and Caribbean countries.

An important program of bilateral cooperation was formalized in the fishing and agriculture sectors, and a 1st Summit on Regional Fishing and Agriculture has been arranged in Venezuela during May 15-19 of this year.

A cultural cooperation program was drawn up, which includes – among other things – editorial and film services, and the development of discography, as well as studying the creation of a joint enterprise for culture industries. Contracts worth $305 million have been signed for 2005, according to agreements made during the 5th Joint Commission, and which are part of the ALBA.

All of these agreements include actions and initiatives to progressively contribute to strengthening the integration process inspired by the ALBA, which will become an example, and in which we aspire to include Latin America and the Caribbean.

We should express that this Strategic Plan is a flexible tool that will continue to be extended and enriched as new proposals emerge that compliment the objectives established by the Joint Statement and the Agreement for the implementation of the ALBA.

In view of the historical privilege of making this Final Declaration public in the presence of President Hugo Chávez and President Fidel Castro, both delegations formally pledge to spare no effort until the dream of Bolívar and Martí of a Latin united and integrated America and Caribbean is attained. As the Joint Declaration expresses: "...we fully agree that the ALBA will not become a reality with mercantilist ideas or the selfish interests of business profitability or national benefit to the detriment of other peoples. Only a broad Latin Americanist vision, which acknowledges the impossibility of our countries’ developing and being truly independent in an isolated manner, will be capable of achieving what Bolívar called " see the formation in the Americas of the greatest nation in the world, not so much for its size and riches as for its freedom and glory," and that Martí conceived of as "Our America," to differentiate it from the other America, the expansionist one with imperialist appetites.

In his memorable June 11, 1892, article in the magazine Patria, José Martí wrote: "Our enemy obeys one plan: to inflame us, disperse us, divide us, suffocate us. That is why we are obeying another plan: to show ourselves in all our stature, to tighten up, join together, to evade him, finally making our homeland free. Plan against plan."

This, which we are approving today, is that of Bolívar and Martí.

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Venezuelan and Cuban delegations

Havana, 28th day of the month of April of 2005

"Year of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas"