MasterBlog en Español: Venezuela y Guyana: geografía política

sábado, 14 de mayo de 2011

Venezuela y Guyana: geografía política

Del blog beyondbrics del Financial Times, nos viene este articulo sobre Venezuela y Guyana.

Venezuela and Guyana: political geography

by Benedict Mander

Look at any Venezuelan map of Venezuela, and to the east hangs a large, shaded appendage, marked zona en reclamación. That area constitutes about two-thirds of what most of the world today considers to be Guyana.

Despite this rather fundamental disagreement – which has its origins in Britain’s colonial exploits in the 19th century – Venezuela and Guyana these days get along just fine. And as Guyana’s agreement to export $48m worth of rice to Venezuela shows, each country is in a position to do the other a valuable favour.

The agreement on rice exports is a result of Venezuela’s Petrocaribe scheme, in which the oil-rich nation sells oil at concessionary rates to a group of Caribbean and Central American countries. They need only pay for half of it up front; the rest can be paid in instalments over 25 years at a fixed interest rate of 1 per cent, with two year’s grace.

Moreover, they can pay in kind: in the case of Guyana, which expects a bumper crop of rice this year, it hopes to offset its debt of some $160m with Venezuela with about 70,000 tonnes of rice.

Any reservations Guyana may have about Venezuela’s controversial president, Hugo Chavez, go out the window: it’s an offer that is simply too good to refuse.

Not only able does the scheme enable Guyana to free up cash it would otherwise have to spend on energy for other purposes (and Caribbean countries have a disproportionately high energy bill compared to the rest of the world); it can also find a reasonably secure and nearby home for its rice.

To be sure, Venezuela needs that rice. Once self-sufficient in rice production, a combination of misguided agricultural policies, private sector bullying and increased consumption means it isn’t any more. What’s more, ever paranoid of US meddling in the region, the Petrocaribe scheme buys Venezuela friends, if not undue influence.

And that is where Guyana in particular gains. Keen to maintain good relations with the Caribbean, it seems unlikely that Venezuela would want to upset the balance by throwing its weight around over the “zone in reclamation”. That shaded area will probably stay like that for some years to come.

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