Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil inked 3 agreements Friday with Venezuela, praising it for standing by Lebanon during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
During a meeting with with his Venezuelan counterpart Delcy Rodriguez Friday , Bassil signed a memorandum of understanding, a joint cooperation agreement and an agreement on visa exemptions for diplomatic, service and special passports.
“The agreements that were signed reflect ongoing political cooperation between the two countries,” Bassil said in a statement released by his media office Saturday. “But it is more than just cooperation – it is a mutual understanding of international affairs.”
Venezuela is Bassil’s last stop in his Latin American tour . On Thursday he signed a similar a similar visa exemption deal with his Colombian counterpart Maria Angela Holguin in Bogota.
In expressing gratitude for Venezuela’s support for Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel he said:
“Our primary cause is the Palestinian cause,”
During the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, the late President Hugo Chavez recalled Venezuela’s charge d’affaires to Tel Aviv and described the United States as a terrorist nation for supporting Israel.
The Israeli government responded by recalling the Israeli ambassador to Venezuela as Chavez went on comparing Israel’s assault on Lebanese and Palestinians with the Holocaust.
International observers believe that in 2015 the South American nation of Venezuela may be poised to experience the sort of unrest that has plagued the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The falling oil prices sent an already troubled Venezuela over the edge.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who took over after the death of Hugo Chavez, is losing core support among the underprivileged and poor, Albert Goldson, a global risk consultant said . Maduro’s approval rating is below 20 percent, allowing his opposition to develop more broad-based support among the various constituencies in the country, Goldson added.
For foreign expats, including the Lebanese , Venezuela has become a huge prison . Travel to and from Venezuela has become almost impossible . They cannot buy airline tickets in local currency and until few days ago they were not allowed to hold foreign convertible currency such as the US dollar and the Euro. Thirty years ago the US dollar was worth about 4 Venezuelan Bolivars but now the average person can only buy dollars on the black market at a rate of about 180,000 of the old Bolivars( or 180 of the new Bolivars) . Only those who have access to foreign currency abroad could travel.