Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro announced the relaunch of the PetroCaribe program in the first half of 2020 during the 17th summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA-TCP) in Cuba Saturday.
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"We have decided to relaunch with great force for the first half of the year 2020, the PetroCaribe project, the Miracle Mission and ALBA Cultural (...) ALBA has demonstrated the practical capacity to impact in the lives of our peoples," Maduro declared.
The program was launched on June 29, 2005, by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, under which the country supplies oil to other Caribbean countries on favorable financing terms.
The historic agreement allowed Caribbean nations access to gas and oil without the adverse consequences of intermediation, prevailing market prices, and speculation.
Chavez’s idea was the resolve "asymmetries in access to energy resources through new favorable, equitable and fair exchange schemes between the countries of the Caribbean region," without state control of the supply of resources.
The payment system allows for the purchase of oil at market value for five to 50 percent upfront with a grace period of one to two years, the remainder can be paid through a 17-25 year financing agreement with one percent interest rates if oil prices are above US$40 per barrel.
If these countries lack the liquidity to pay off what’s owed, Venezuela makes an exception by accepting payment in goods and services. For instance, Cuba pays part of its through medical, educational, and athletic services, while Nicaragua pays with meat and milk.
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There are a total of 17 members; 12 of the members are from the 15 member Caribbean Community (excluding Barbados, Montserrat, and Trinidad and Tobago). The others are Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and Haiti.
During the ALBA summit, Maduro urged the international body and its member-states to also relaunch the social program Operation Miracle, which offers ophthalmologic procedures and eyecare for impoverished countries and communities in the region.
It was launched in 2004 by late revolutionary leaders, Fidel Castro, and Chavez. During its first year, only Venezuelan patients were treated but in 2005 it was extended to other Caribbean, Central and South American countries. Initially, patients had to travel to Cuba for treatment, but in 2006 the program set up ophthalmology centers in several nations, which as right-wing governments took over were dismantled.
The program offers 100 percent free optometry consultations, exams, surgeries and medications to low-income people.