From the Scotsman (since American papers, as usual don't cover it)
Political allies Cuba and Venezuela began weaving their economies more tightly together yesterday as scores of business people from the South American nation opened a trade show on the communist-run island.
The opening of offices for Venezuela’s state oil company and a government bank were among other major events planned for this week’s trade and business meetings between the two left-leaning developing nations – a growing alliance that has increasingly alarmed Washington.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who considers himself an ally and personal friend of Cuban President Fidel Castro, was expected to at the activities here today.
And then the pimp-slapping:
A communique from the Venezuelan presidency said the two leaders this week planned to sign 10 new cooperation agreements, covering areas including energy, health, education, infrastructure, housing and culture.
The new moves are aim to cementing Cuba and Venezuela in a new “Boliviarian Alternative for the Americas” – a trade pact they announced in December in opposition to the US-supported Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA. The name refers to South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, frequently invoked by the Chavez government.
Venezuela in 2000 began selling 53,000 barrels of crude a day to oil-import-dependent Cuba under preferential terms, allowing the island to survive tough economic times that began with the Soviet Union’s collapse more than a decade ago.
In turn, communist Cuba has sent 13,000 Cuban doctors to work in Venezuelan state-run clinics located in poor neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile President Chavez yesterday rejected US criticism of his plans to buy 100,000 Russian assault rifles, accusing Colombia’s Defence Minister Jorge Uribe of parroting Washington’s concerns as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived for a visit in Bogota.
Chavez pointed out that Colombia has received massive military aid from the US as it fights rebels in a four-decade-long civil war.
He didn’t refer by name to Rice, who has criticised what US officials call an erosion of Venezuela’s democracy. But Chavez said there appeared little coincidence in Uribe’s comments.
“The imperial lady arrived, and so a pawn said what the lady wants to hear,” Chavez said.
The Bushistas have completely fucked up relations with Chavez, they tried to pull an Allende on him, failed, and have done nothing but rattle swords (vaingloriously and emptily) ever since.
The problem is, they are essentially powerless to do anything now, they have no diplomatic clout and can only sit there and bitch. Meanwhile, Chavez forms an alliance that helps keep Castro afloat.
If there is a less logical, more rapacious, and less viable diplomatic alternative than what the Bush Administration has done toward Venezuela it would be hard to fathom.