Chavez offers US$100m aid package to Haiti *LINK*
Posted By: Tyehimba
Date: 20, March 07, at 10:01 a.m.
Chavez offers US$100m aid package to Haiti
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (centre) stretches hands with Haiti's President Rene Preval (right) and a representative from Cuba during a news conference at the National palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Monday.- Reuters
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promised impoverished Haiti aid amounting to just under US$100 million to boost social and economic programmes, saying it was partially a thank-you gift linked to their shared history.
Haiti, then ruled by president Alexandre Petion, helped his country secure independence from Spain in 1817, said Chavez, offering 'weapons, men and resources'.
"It is here in Haiti that a group of revolutionaries, among them Francisco de Miranda, waved the Venezuelan flag for the first time," he said during a joint news conference with Haitian president Rene Preval, at the presidential palace.
"By helping Haiti today, we are only giving back a small part of what we owe to this country," said Chavez. "It's just a start," he stated.
Chavez, as part of his stated goal to diminish the influence of the United States in the region, has been offering aid and preferential trade terms to countries of the Caribbean and the wider hemisphere.
The George W. Bush administration, he said, "represents the cruelest, the most terrible, cynical and the most deadly empire the world has ever seen, while we represent the Bolivarian project for independence and freedom."
millions in savings
His PetroCaribe oil facility which offers petroleum to Caricom countries on concessionary terms, will save Haiti more than $150 million a year, Haitian officials say.
Chavez' anti-U.S. rhetoric found resonance among some Haitians, who are still smarting from the ouster of former president Jean Bertrand-Aristide, who remains in asylum in South Africa.
The Bush administration has been accused of engineering Aristide's removal from office in February 2004 in collusion with Jacques Chirac's French Government, an accusation Washington and Paris have repeatedly denied.
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