Venezuelan president vows to maintain Petrocaribe support

Venezuela´s President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela´s President Nicolas Maduro recently reassured Petrocaribe members that Venezuela will keep sending crude oil to the region.

Maduro told heads of state from the other 17 Petrocaribe members during a meeting in Jamaica that Venezuela is committed to continuing its support for decades despite any problems that the country could face either with a depressed financial situation or with internal political volatility.

"We have to support this for 10, 20, 40, 50 years, a century, so that Petrocaribe would be remembered in time as the basis for the construction of the new independence, of the new union between Latin America and the Caribbean," the Venezuelan government's website reported Maduro as saying. 

He reportedly also said that without the Venezuelan solidarity with the Caribbean and Central American nations through Petrocaribe, “our Caribbean would be a Mediterranean,” referring to the refugee crisis in that part of the world.

Venezuela is currently supplying some 100,000 barrels of oil every day to countries that are members of the Petrocaribe alliance, which guarantees a supply equivalent to 40 percent of their energy needs, according to the Venezuelan government.

“To the end of 2014, this cooperation mechanism has supplied 301 million barrels of crude oil equivalent to $28.3 billion to guarantee the energy security of the country members,” according to the Venezuelan government.

Independent experts such as Kenneth Ramirez have indicated that the shipments are declining, however. In 2014, they dropped 17 percent compared with the previous year, Ramirez has said on Twitter. 

Petrocaribe was created in June 2005. The initiative was seen at the time as an attempt by then President Hugo Chavez to increase his influence over the region.

There are currently 18 members of Petrocaribe: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Venezuela. 

Venezuela still offers 50 percent of the invoice due within months, but the payment of the remainder can be extended up to 25 years with an interest rate of 1 percent.

“Thanks to this fair exchange, between 2005 and 2015 the countries that are members of this accord have expanded their gross domestic product by 25 percent,” according to the Venezuelan government.

Other solidarity initiatives of the Venezuelan government have included the distribution of low-cost heating oil in the United States by the Texas-based Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state company PDVSA.