In keeping with previous declarations, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and PA President Mahmoud Abbas have signed agreements pertaining to taxation, energy and health, at the presidential Miraflores palace in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.
Abbas’s third visit to Venezuela enhanced the foundations agreed upon in previous visits during the late Hugo Chavez’s presidency. Chavez, a staunch supporter of Palestine and a noted anti-imperialist, reserved his harshest criticism for Israel’s massacres unleashed upon Gaza, severed diplomatic relations with Israel and embarked upon a series of accords with regard to economy, trade, agriculture and education cooperation with Abbas. Chavez also supported recognition of a Palestinian state, supporting his stance not only through the Bolivarian revolution, but also through an evocation of verses from Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
The current agreements include a convention to avoid double taxation and Venezuela’s provision of 240,000 barrels of diesel fuel. During a press conference, Maduro declared, “Petro-Palestine is born,” adding that the agreement indicates the consolidation of both countries’ ties, as well as the strengthening of the Palestinian economy. Maduro also acknowledged the possibility of Israel obstructing the supply due to the ongoing blockade.
Bilateral agreements also included the establishing of Centro de la Misión Milagro Palestino-Venezolano – an ophthalmology centre, in Palestine. Palestinian medical students will also benefit from the facilitation of the process to study medicine in Venezuela. The health agreements are reminiscent of the Cuban Revolution’s internationalist approach, as well as the agreements between Venezuela and Cuba following the elimination of the medical profession being associated with prestige in order to cultivate a humanitarian approach and sense of social responsibility. In one of his reflections Fidel Castro asserted, “We send doctors, not soldiers,” emphasising the internationalist commitment by Cuban doctors as opposed to the military aid dispatched by the US in the wake of natural disasters. The Cuban example, endorsed by Chavez, of imparting medical knowledge and practice will now be implemented for the benefit of Palestinian students.
According to information published on the website of the Venezuelan Embassy in the UK and Ireland, Abbas is also seeking support for special observer status in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA) and the Commonwealth of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Venezuela’s Telesur TV has confirmed Maduro’s support for Palestine’s inclusion.
Given the extended support to Palestine from Venezuela, at a time when Israel is also seeking to strengthen ties with South American countries promulgating support for the settler-colonial state through various forms of cooperation, Abbas should seek to impart an equivalent level of support to the people he claims to represent. This can be done primarily by endorsing the right to resistance as an alternative to the stalled negotiations.
The Bolivarian Revolution was not built upon compromise; efforts to destabilise Venezuela following Chavez’s death are well under way. Maduro’s critics have also insisted that Venezuela re-establish its former diplomatic ties with Israel, pointing out the recognition granted to Israel by the PA and its ambassadors. Rather than attempt to camouflage concessions as a rational means towards establishing a compromised Palestinian state, Abbas should turn his ceremonial visits to the memorials commemorating the revolutionaries Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez into a tangible form of resistance as befits Palestinians and their struggle for land and memory.