Cuba and Venezuela strengthen ties to mutual benefit
Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the Presidents of Cuba and Venezuela have signed the Caracas Energy Agreement. The signing of the agreement marks an important stage in the cooperation between the two countries. The agreement goes into effect immediately and will remain valid for five years. It is then extendable for further five-year periods, unless one of the parties declines to continue. The signing of the agreement, during a ceremony broadcast on Cuban television, demonstrates a mutual desire to "strengthen traditional ties of friendship" between the two countries and to promote progress in their economies through the reciprocal advantages that come from effective co- operation. Venezuela will supply Cuba with up to 53,000 barrels of crude oil and its derivatives on a daily basis, in line with a three-month schedule. Cuba, for its part will supply services and technologies within its capabilities which will be defined each year. Venezuela is one of the major oil producing countries; Cuba has no oil reserves but can be of assistance in other ways. A special provision in the agreement establishes that Cuba will provide the services of its doctors, medical specialists and health technicians free of charge. These personnel will work in areas where it will not displace existing medical staff. The agreement also specifies that Venezuela will pay the costs of accommodation, food and internal transportation for Cuban medical staff, while Cuba will pay their salaries, among other expenses. Cuba offers more than 120 goods and services. Among those are services linked to sugar industry, tourism, agriculture, education, sports (up to 3,000 coaches will be provided), health (assistance to be provided in isolated areas of Venezuela where there are no or insufficient number of existing doctors, along with drug addiction treatment and transplants in Cuba). Cuba has heavily invested in the development of its medical research and is justifiably proud of its achievements in this field. The agreement goes into effect immediately and will remain valid for five years. It is then extendable for further five-year periods, unless one of the parties declines to continue. A cultural agreement signed by the two Presidents aims to strengthen friendship and solidarity relations even further and to promote cultural co-operation.