By Doris Calderón
Caracas, (Prensa Latina) The recent visit to Venezuela by Bolivian President Evo Morales reaffirmed the spirit of solidarity among the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, which is setting standards in the region’s new geopolitics.
Morales was received on Sunday, Dec. 26, by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with military honors at the Rafael Urdaneta air base in Maracaibo, Zulia.
Morales presented a donation of 50 tons of rice for Venezuelans affected by the flooding and landslides sparked by torrential rains, especially the local indigenous community. The donation came in addition to other aid provided by the Andean nation. “We are here to serve our people of Latin America,” Morales said. “We share the little that we have with Venezuela, and it is the first time that our government has begun to practice solidarity.”
During the welcome, Chávez highlighted that the spirit of integration embodied in the ALBA bloc was abundant, and that it was no coincidence that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had been in Venezuela just 10 days earlier.
Chávez and Morales toured the areas affected by the rains in La Guajira, where Venezuelaâ�Ös largest indigenous community lives, including the Wayuu, Añu and Yupka, hard hit by the tragedies of nature and history.
Shortly before, the head of the Operational Strategic Command, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, had explained that 79 shelters had been set up in La Guajira to house 12,500 people who had been left homeless, in addition to 29,000 others who had suffered negative consequences, and that 342 tons of food had been received.
Representatives of the Wayuu community welcomed the two presidents with dances and traditional ceremonies at the shelter in Fuerte Mara, which was housing 1,276 people who had lost their homes.
The mayor of Mara, Luis Caldera, presented Chávez with the Order of the Great Cacique Yaurepara as a recognition of the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world.
Yaurepara, head of the Guajira nation, is the tribal leader who was most respected for his resistance to the Spanish colonizers.
Morales expressed his happiness at receiving the distinction, which he dedicated to the inidigenous peoples who organize, unite and mobilize for their social, cultural and economic demands.
In that respect, he said that because of global warming, the populations of rural areas, peasant movements, and indigenous communities were those who suffered from the natural disasters caused by the lack of ethics of industrialized countries.
He called on the international community to reflect on climate change and insisted on the need for a sincere international debate among industrialized countries, chiefly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of global warming.
“The problem is that we are not talking about industries for the good of humanity. No. I am referring to an unsustainable system that is unbridled in environmental impact and in the exploitation of natural resources,” he said.
Chávez and Morales also reviewed the map of South America to study the land connections that would allow peoples in the region to increase trade.
Chávez highlighted the importance of developing a major road from the Amazon, through Manaos, Portobello and Gualeguaychú to Bolivia, making it possible to transport important lines such as soy, oil and derivatives.
Morales alluded to the threats faced by the member countries of the ALBA, such as several recent coups, which he related to the influence of the U.S. government.
“If they respect us, we will respect them; if not, we are here to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the Latin American peoples,” he said.
On the way home, the two presidents made another stopover at the Rafael Urdaneta air base, where Morales presented Chávez with a handmade indigenous poncho.
The Venezuelan president thanked him for the gesture and called on the foreign ministers of the ALBA to hold a meeting in early 2011 to prepare a summit meeting for the presidents of member countries: Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.