Colombia gets cut off; Argentina gets cut in

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Chavecito may have sent an ambassador back to Bogotá, but that doesn’t mean Colombia is off the hook. Chavecito simply found a better way to punish his worst neighbor, one that hits hard in the pocketbook:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Argentine counterpart, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, signed a $1.1 billion bilateral accord to promote trade between their respective countries during a visit by Fernandez to Caracas on Tuesday. Trade between the two countries was estimated at $1.4 billion last year.

Chavez is aiming to replace imports from Colombia and vowing to reduce trade with his neighbour over its decision to grant the United States the use of five additional military bases. Venezuela is Colombia’s second biggest trading partner after the U.S. The two countries shared an estimated $7 billion in bilateral trade last year.

Emphasis added.

So, what does it mean? Well, in addition to boosting Argentina’s auto sector (and hitting Colombia’s hard), there’s this:

Among the 22 cooperation agreements signed, the Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation (CVA) and Verandemi of Argentina agreed to carry out a feasibility study for the development of various projects related to the exploitation and production of soybeans.

As part of the push to substitute Colombian food imports with those from Argentina and other countries, Venezuela also agreed to purchase 80,000 tonnes of beef from Argentina. Last year Venezuela imported 200,000 tonnes of beef valued at $755 million – a third of its annual consumption – from Colombia.

Venezuela’s state importing agency SUVINCA also signed a deal to purchase $100 million in textile imports from Argentina’s textile makers association, Fundacion Pro Tejer, this year.

A cooperation agreement on the mutual recognition of quality certificates in the textile and auto parts sectors was signed, as well as other agreements in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals , purchase of drilling equipment, leather goods and poultry products.

Finally, Venezuela’s Food Ministry and Argentina’s Production Ministry signed a letter of intent to guarantee a steady supply of a range of basic food items in Venezuela.

During the meeting, Fernandez said the relations between Venezuela and Argentina are “an example of the struggle for unity on the continent.”

Unity? Boy, I’ll say it is. It’s evidence that the entire continent is united against Colombia and its brash, stupid president’s mickeypants move of letting the US station troops at five Colombian bases (to replace the now-shut-down Manta, in Ecuador). When you’ve got an economic biggie like Argentina stepping in to fill the breach, and benefiting in turn from Venezuela’s prosperous and growing domestic economy, well…let’s just put it this way: Socialism really IS good for capitalism, after all.

(Just not US and Colombian corporate interests, natch. Ha, ha.)

PS: Colombia didn’t attend the recent Unasur meeting, but they won’t be able to weasel out of a presidential summit later this month in Argentina. El Narco and his foreign minister will be attending, and you can be sure they’ll get a hot earful from everyone, particularly Cristina and Lula. Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

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