Monday, October 22, 2007

[PBN Venzuela steps onto Pacific stage


1424 FJT
Monday, October 22, 2007

Update: 2.24pm THE Venezuela Government of international pariah Hugo
Chavez has signalled a challenge to Australia's influence in the Pacific
with an aggressive diplomatic push based on cheap fuel for island states.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 38th Pacific Islands Forum in Tonga
last week Venezuela's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs for Asia, Middle
East and the Pacific, Vladimir Poljak, said his Government was ready to
help end the West's 'domination' in the region.

In a further challenge to Australia - one of the region's biggest aid
donors - Mr Poljak said Venezuela did not need the 'permission' of
bigger countries to establish contacts in the Pacific.

Oil-rich Venezuela was granted observer status at the forum by host
nation Tonga, despite international disquiet over Mr Chavez's ties with
Iran and communist-controlled Cuba.

Mr Poljak seized the opportunity to court influence among the 15 nations
represented at the forum.

''I really want you to rest assured Venezuela has a very aggressive
energy-(linked) political philosophy,'' he said.

''Venezuela wants to end the use of fuel as a weapon of domination over
smaller countries.''

Since coming to power in 1998, Mr Chavez has embarked on a program of
populist Left-leaning economic policies that challenge US pre-eminence
in Latin America and now, apparently, the Pacific

The Chavez Government's decision to nationalise most of Venezuela's oil
industry has led to prices there falling as low as 9c a litre, making it
among the cheapest in the world, according to a Pacnews report.

Asked how Venezuela might be able to help Pacific states, he suggested
moves to tie them to the Chavez Government through cheap fuel.

''We can say our oil in Venezuela is used as an instrument of liberation
because our oil policies are truly independent,'' he said.

''We have two choices: either we use it and be selfish about it or we
use it and help others with it. We've used our oil to fund schools,
health and research for the people. So I think our presence here at this
forum really shows the true interest Venezuela has towards the Pacific.''
Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts:

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