Haiti’s Martelly Among Caribbean Leaders at PetroCaribe Summit in Venezuela

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - May 4, 2013

Above: the PetroCaribe Summit (Photo: GV)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti President Michel Martelly left the country Friday to attend the PetroCaribe Summit in Venezuela, one of a number of Caribbean leaders attending this weekend’s event.

Martelly and a Haitian delegation arrived on Friday, while Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin and Agriculture Minister Thomas Jacques were set to join them on Saturday.

Several Caribbean leaders had already arrived in the country for the summit, including St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

The PetroCaribe agreement, launched in 2005 by provides cheap oil at concessionary lending rates to member states. It also features a development programme.

There were many questions heading into Venezuela’s recent presidential election about the future of the agreement in the region, although Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signaled after his victory that he would strengthen the programme.

The forum officially began Saturday afternoon. A total of 18 countries are reportedly represented.

Venezuela’s government said the summit would focus on ways to “advance the creation of a special economic zone that would allow nations to advance economic integration and not just energy.”

The officials on hand will also discuss ways to “align the necessities of productive cooperation” between PetroCaribe and the ALBA alliance, the government said.

Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda are all members of ALBA, while Haiti is an observer to the regional alliance.

On Sunday, Maduro will lead the meeting of Heads of State and Government of PetroCaribe.

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