STATEMENT FROM THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Blatant fascist and treasonous lies about Cuba
The treasonous and fascist television station Globovisión, along with other privately owned Venezuelan television stations, throughout the day and night of yesterday January 8, have been repeating every 30 minutes, on average, blatantly provocative and false claims against Cuba, issued by the so-called Democratic Coordinating Committee. Among the three objectives put forward by this group to hold a demonstration in Caracas today, is the shameful claim that they need "to prevent the giving away of our most important resource to Cuba." This is a gross attempt to implicate our country in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
This new and treacherous action is aimed at confusing the brotherly Venezuelan people, just as they tried to do last April during the failed coup when constitutional President Hugo Chávez was kidnapped, resorting once again to the argument that oil is sent to our country even though Cuba does not pay for it.
These are the facts:
On October 30, 2000, the presidents of Cuba and Venezuela signed a Cooperation Agreement between our two nations. As part of this agreement, a contract was signed on November 22 of that same year for the sale and purchase of crude oil and oil derivatives, establishing the terms and conditions for the supply of up to 53,000 barrels a day for a period of five years. The terms and conditions agreed upon with Cuba are equally or less favorable compared with those set for the rest of the countries of Central America and the Caribbean, which are also beneficiaries of the Caracas Agreement.
The shipments began in December of 2000 and proceeded uninterrupted until April 11, 2002, the date of the failed fascist coup. During this period, 25,589,000 barrels were received.
In compliance with the provisions of the contract for that period, payments totaling 439.7 million dollars were made, in cash, at world market prices. The deferred payments, as per the formula agreed upon, would begin to be made at the end of the current year, 2003.
The suspension of supplies in April was the sole responsibility of the putschist sectors, which included a group of PDVSA managers. On April 5, 2002, there were four ships waiting to transport fuel to Cuba. Three of them were ready on April 9, but only one could leave on the morning of April 11. Two shiploads, by then the property of the Cuban firm Cuba-Petroleo (CUPET) as shown in the contract, were sold to third parties through a unilateral decision by the PDVSA authorities; the fourth ship was never loaded. These events occurred two days before the fascist coup of April.
As a result of this action, Cuba had to immediately set out to purchase the oil and oil derivatives that the country needed, through intermediaries and at much higher prices, given the urgency and the high cost of shipping resulting from longer distances, since some shipments could be contracted only in Europe and Africa. There were even shipments that could not be brought to Cuba because no ships were available, due to the notorious restrictions imposed by the U.S. blockade on vessels that call on Cuban ports.
To provide some idea of this situation, due to the interruption of the supply of Venezuelan crude oil it was necessary to shut down the second most important refinery in the country, that of Santiago de Cuba, from April to September. This created the need for additional oil derivative imports at higher costs, and for the use of the country’s reserves kept for exceptional circumstances. The extra expenditure of hard currency for this reason alone totaled 85 million dollars, which added to the adverse effects the whole situation had on the economy at large and the population.
In July of last year, a renegotiation agreement was reached with PDVSA. This agreement provided that shipments would resume in August, although that did not happened until September, and then including the unfair payment of 13 million dollars in arrears imposed by the oil company. This was accepted by Cuba, whose position was one of full understanding of the difficulties faced by the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, despite the fact that our country was in no way responsible for the delayed payments.
Then, from September to November of 2002, another 4,444,000 barrels were received, with payments made of 96.4 million, the exact amount that Cuba was obliged to pay during this time; the payments were made without the slightest delay.
Last December 2, in the midst of the new attempts at a coup d’état, the shipments committed in the Caracas Agreement were once again interrupted, with similar consequences to those of the period from April to August. In other words, the refinery in Santiago de Cuba was again shut down, and the country was forced to turn to intermediaries and to pay higher costs, at the same time that a decrease in production by PDVSA had additionally caused an increase in oil prices on the world market and a physical shortage of products in the Caribbean region. The failure by PDVSA to meet its obligations has cost our country more than 200 million dollars in economic damages, in the very same year that it was already facing the adverse circumstances resulting from a combination of the worldwide economic crisis with the U.S. blockade, and the considerable damage caused by three hurricanes that accounted for more than 2.5 billion dollars in losses for our people.
Following the paralysis and boycott of the Venezuelan oil industry last December 2, during the first 10 days of January 2003, two oil shipments were sent to Cuba. By conservative estimates, they account for less than 5% of the oil exported by Venezuela following the boycott. Our country was not the first, but rather one of the last to receive this oil. For more than a month, Cuba did not receive a single barrel of the one and a half million barrels of Venezuelan oil we were supposed to receive in compliance with the Agreement.
However, the malicious individuals who spread lies about the oil that "Chávez gives away to Cuba" do not merely forget the hundreds of millions of dollars paid by Cuba to PDVSA, fully complying with its obligations month after month, cent by cent, with considerable effort and sacrifice, as well as the damages caused to our economy by ignoring the clause that obliges any of the parties to provide written notification of the intent to terminate the contract, no less than 30 days prior to the expiration date. They also completely overlook the fact that absolutely nothing is "given away", and that far from being a one way avenue the Cooperation Agreement brings benefits to both nations.
On the other hand, what has Cuba’s stance been? Has it caused Venezuela any harm? We need only provide four examples, among others that could be given, of Cuba’s cooperation with the people of our sister nation, Venezuela.
A total of 748 Cuban doctors, nurses and health care technicians have provided their services free of charge in the most dangerous and isolated regions of Venezuela, where such services were unavailable before. They have saved numerous lives, and restored the health of tens of thousands of Venezuelans. Thanks to the selfless efforts of these doctors, infant mortality rates in the places where they are working have been reduced from 19.5 to 3.9 deaths per 1000 live births, a better rate than that of any developed country.
At the Latin American School of Medical Sciences in Havana, there are 380 Venezuelan youths studying, also free of charge, alongside thousands of other young Latin Americans. The vast majority of these young Venezuelans are from humble backgrounds, and in just a few short years they will return to their country as professionals. With their training, dedication and ethical and moral values they will radically change the health care situation wherever they work. It would have been impossible for most of these students to cover the costs of their university studies, and it would have been difficult, almost impossible, for the government of Venezuela to spend the 70 million dollars or more that it would have cost to train them in the United States, Europe, or any country with health indicators similar to those of Cuba.
In Cuban health care facilities, 3042 Venezuelan patients have received medical treatment free of charge; the majority of them suffered from serious illnesses or major injuries, and their treatment, including a good number of highly complex surgical procedures, tests, medications, etc., would have cost the Venezuelan government tens of millions of dollars. The total cost of the services provided free of charge by Cuba would, by conservative estimates, amount to more than 100 million dollars in barely two years.
However, it is enough for us to see the recovery of the vast majority of these people, the lives saved, the children, teenagers and adults who, for example, have been able to walk again, the affection and gratitude which they show our country when they leave. But, to be honest, we would like to know how many of those who are slandering Cuba today would be willing to promote and economically sustain a similar program for their fellow citizens, even using their own professionals and their own health care facilities.
In numerous cities and areas of Venezuela, 600 Cuban trainers and other sports technicians have been working under contracts as part of the Bolivarian government of Venezuela’s efforts to promote physical education and sports for the population. While this cooperation has not been provided free of charge, the payment received by Cuba has been far lower than what would normally be charged for a similar number of specialists from other nations or from their own country, if they were available.
Whether they like it or not, no matter how many lies they spread, no matter how many campaigns they unleash, the truth cannot be hidden from the people of Venezuela and the world, who are well aware of the solidarity and generosity of Cuba and its people. The fascists, unscrupulous and heinous as they are, know nothing of such things.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba
January 9, 2003