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Venezuela pledges commitment to Petrocaribe despite oil-price dip

Caracas, Nov 20 (EFE).- Venezuela pledged at a Petrocaribe meeting here Thursday to continue supplying oil on favorable terms to member states despite a drop in international crude prices.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, the former CEO of state oil company PDVSA, stressed at the opening of the gathering that the South American nation remains “firmly committed” to the initiative.

Petrocaribe “is an energy agreement that is perfectly sustainable over time,” Ramirez told energy ministers of the 18 member states.

The Venezuelan government-promoted Petrocaribe alliance has come under increasing criticism in recent weeks due to a sharp drop in oil prices, which President Nicolas Maduro says have caused government revenues to fall by at least 35 percent.

Venezuela’s opposition blames the Maduro administration’s continued support for Petrocaribe in large part for the country’s financial woes.

The price of Venezuela’s crude basket fell last week to $70.83 per barrel, its lowest level since Oct. 1, 2010, when it closed at $69.61 per barrel.

Petrocaribe is made up of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Venezuela.

Founded in June 2005 by Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, Petrobras allows poor Central American and Caribbean countries to purchase crude and derivatives from oil-rich Venezuela on conditions of preferential payment.