The Guardian 23 March, 2005

Chávez calls for greater unity of South

The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frias, called for greater unity of the South and for remaking and rebuilding the agenda of the South.

"Yes, we have to show that the South exists. We have to devise a strategy for the South", he asserted while delivering a lecture on "The Challenges of Development in Latin America" at the Jawarhlal Nehru University (JNU) (India) on March 4.

The lecture, organised by the JNU, was attended by students and faculty of the JNU along with a host of invitees, among whom were political leaders, parliamentarians, diplomatic personnel, writers, journalists and activists.

Prominent among those who participated were former President, K R Narayanan, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, JNU Chancellor Karan Singh, writer-activist Arundhati Roy, peace activist Achin Vinaik and Cuba's ambassador to India.

Chávez referred to the Bandung conference of Non Aligned Movement in which Nehru, Tito (former Yugoslav leader) and Nasser (former Egyptian leader) played a significant role and said time had come to get back that consciousness of unity of developing countries.

In this connection he said that the agreements he was going to sign with the Indian government regarding cooperation in the field of oil would help this cause. He made it clear that Venezuela wanted to supply oil to India so that it could meet its needs for development. Chávez invited Indian oil companies to come to Venezuela to explore and extract oil.

"From today on there would be a great alliance between Venezuela and India. The Bolivarian Revolution opens its arms for friendship with the Indian people so that together we can build a better future for both of us", said Chávez.

Chávez touched upon the changes being made to the hydrocarbon laws in his country with the sole purpose of restoring the huge revenue from sale of oil to the people. He said this vast wealth was being diverted to the US through its transnational corporations and its loyal lackeys in his country — the oligarchies. That is why the new constitution — adopted by the people through a referendum — is being further strengthened by changes in the laws.

Chávez said Venezuela was in the midst of a revolution in social, economic and political spheres. He explained how, with the help of Cuba, efforts were being made to make his country completely literate in the next two years; make education available to all; take health to the poorest of the poor and put in place a strong health delivery system.

In his welcome speech, JNU vice chancellor G K Chadha said the university was honoured and inspired by the presence of Chávez whom he described as a crusader against the new economic policies.

The Vice Chancellor praised Chávez's fight for a multi-polar world and said Chávez had a special position in the world today for implementing radical and bold policies in his country, for lending voice to the underprivileged and for undertaking land reforms, literacy and education programs.

People's Democracy, paper of Communist Party of India (Marxist)

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