PORLAMAR, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez proposed yesterday that South American and African nations unite to create a cross-continental mining corporation to keep control of their resources.
“Africa and South America are rich lands, yet their peoples are poor, because they have been exploited,” Chavez told a summit attended by 28 African and South American leaders.
The meeting has been dominated by calls for poor nations to unite against the global economic dominance of the West.
Chavez said Venezuela had agreed to form a joint venture in mining with Sierra Leone, and was signing letters of intention with Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Namibia.
Chavez proposed a “multi-state” corporation for the South America-Africa group meeting on Margarita island, saying Venezuela could lead the way given it had obtained major funds recently for mining investment.
“Without having conditions imposed on us, we obtained various billions of dollars a while ago to invest in mining. And with a part of the production of gold, iron, diamonds, we are going to pay that investment,” he said.
Venezuela recently signed a series of energy and military deals with Russia that included a $4 billion Russian loan to help the South American country develop its mining sector. It was not, however, clear if that was the source of the funds Chavez referred to.
Venezuela holds some of Latin America’s most undeveloped mineral deposits, including gold, diamonds and bauxite.
Venezuelan Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Chavez was also offering to help some African countries identify their mineral deposits.
“We’re hoping to set up a technical commission within 30 days that will begin the first steps of setting up exploration camps and geological prospecting,” Sanz said in a statement.
Chavez also called for similar cross-continental corporation for oil development.
“We have to do it. This is our way forward,” he said.