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Venezuela's Chávez gives $1.5 billion to Cuba and ALBA

Venezuela spent more than $1.5 billion in three years to finance dozens of projects in Cuba and other allied countries, including airport expansions in Cuba and replacing light bulbs in Bolivia, although the oil producer has amassed massive debt in the last few years to cover its own commitments, according to a Venezuelan government document.

Eighty-eight percent of disbursements from January 2007 to May 2010 covered Cuban financial projects, said the document from the Economic Social Development Bank of Venezuela (BANDES), which was obtained by El Nuevo Herald.

The veracity of the document was confirmed by Julio Montoya, an opposition member of Congress, who accused the Hugo Chávez administration of putting the country deep in debt while simultaneously financing ally projects.

“It is not possible for Venezuela to continue increasing its external debt to the point of already surpassing $124 billion, while the president continues to finance the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia,” said Montoya, who represents The New Time Party.

“While Venezuela is going through serious problems with its infrastructure and its communications systems are falling apart, President Chávez is financing the repairs of Cuban airports and railroad systems,” he added.

According to the 58-page report, BANDES, through its Autonomous and International Cooperation Fund or FICA granted “solidarity credits” for more than $980 million to 100 Cuban companies participating in a “twin enterprises” program.

The document does not identify the names of the companies nor its activities, simply indicating that they operate within “five industrial sectors” and the financing is part of strengthening the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of our America or ALBA.

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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