VENEZUELA HOSTS AFRO-LATINO SUMMIT

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 27 Sep 2009

Aljazeera

Venezuela’s president has urged leaders from Africa and South America to help form a "multipolar" world to counter Western economic dominance.

Hugo Chavez told the second South America-Africa (ASA) summit held at the Venezuelan resort of Isla Margarita, that the summit would help the mainly poor nations improve ties and rely less on Europe and the US.

"This is the beginning of the salvation of our people," Chavez said in an opening address on Saturday to the two-day meeting attended by 28 African and South American leaders.

"The 21st century won’t be a bipolar world, it won’t be unipolar. It will be multipolar. Africa will be an important geographic, economic and social pole. And South America will be too."

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, called for the creation of a "Nato of the South" by 2011.

"The world isn’t the five countries on the UN Security Council," he said.

"The world’s powers want to continue to hold on to their power. When they had the chance to help us, they treated us like animals, destroyed our land. Now we have to fight to build our own power."

Trade boosts

The leaders are expected to put together a document backing stronger links between the two continents and urging global bodies like the UN and World Bank to give poor countries more power.

Energy infrastructure development and joint oil project cooperation were the central topics of the meeting.

Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan minister of energy and petroleum, said that co-operation agreements will seek to build up domestic energy capacity and resources.

"All the energy infrastructure, both in South America and in Africa, was designed and developed to meet the energy requirements of the industrial powers that our countries were satellites of," he lamented.

A major oil exporter, Venezuela is seeking to make ties with African states.

Chavez promised this month to build an oil refinery in Mauritania and sell crude oil to Mali and Niger in West Africa, a region that is emerging as a major new oil frontier.

A draft statement from the summit also highlighted the need to create new financial architecture to regulate world markets in the light of the devastating economic crisis, and a rejection of the drug trafficking that plagues the two regions.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, said there was "no global challenge in the 21st Century that cannot be tackled by Africa and South America."

Other leaders present at the summit included Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila.

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