Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has announced the relaunch of the so-called Petrocaribe programme, under which the country supplies oil to other Caribbean nations on favourable financing terms, in 2020.
Maduro, while speaking at the closing event of the 17th Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) summit, said on Saturday that his country would “relaunch the Petrocaribe project in the first half of 2020 with great vigour”, reports Efe news.
He added that the project was fundamental for the energy security of the Caribbean nations.
The announcement comes amid mounting pressure on the Venezuelan oil industry from the US, which has been increasingly imposing sanctions on the state-run PDVSA oil corporation, vessels and shipping companies that transport fuel from the company to Cuba.
The Petrocaribe project was launched in 2005 under the initiative of the Venezuelan government.
In 2013, it was linked to ALBA to promote further regional cooperation.
Petrocaribe has been a key factor in helping the Venezuelan government gain the political support of the Caribbean nations that receive benefits from the initiative, especially on multilateral platforms such as the Organization of the American states.
Cuba also receives crude oil at a subsidized price, though the shipments have shrunk substantially in the last few years following the start of Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis, which – along with economic problems dogging the island nation and the US sanctions on its shipping companies – have led to shortages in the last few months.
Maduro said that the ALBA summit had been a “good session” where “important resolutions” have been passed, such as Petrocaribe and the social program “Mision Milagro” (“Miracle Mission”), which helps perform ophthalmologic procedures in disadvantaged countries.
“We have had to face difficult times,” the Venezuelan leader said. “The ones from the North cannot understand that a noble sentiment moves us: love for our country. For that love, we have done everything.”
ALBA is made up of Venezuela, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Ecuador announced its withdrawal last year after President Lenin Moreno refused to back ALBA’s stance on the Venezuelan crisis and protests in Nicaragua.
Bolivia left ALBA nearly a month ago after its military-backed right-wing government seized power following the forced “resignation” of President Evo Morales.
The ALBA summit was held mostly behind closed doors. The member countries later released a joint statement denouncing the US for “falsely accusing” ALBA members of involvement in the wave of anti-government protests sweeping over the region.