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20

PDVSA Opens Office In Cuba

Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA i will open an office in Cuba

Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA i will open an office in Cuba during a meeting aimed at boosting trade between the two Caribbean nations this week, the government news agency reported Tuesday.

The PDVSA office will be located in Havana, the communist-led island's capital, according to the Bolivarian News Agency.

In 2000, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided to begin selling 53,000 barrels of crude a day to oil-import-dependent Cuba under preferential terms. In turn, Cuba has sent 13,000 Cuban doctors to work in slums and poverty-stricken rural hamlets throughout Venezuela.

Opponents of Chavez argue that Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, doesn't benefit from the agreement because the oil could be sold to other nations at much higher prices. Chavez counters that it is a win-win deal for both countries, citing Cuba's need for cheap energy and Venezuelan needs to further develop far-reaching social programs for the country's poor majority.

Hoping to further deepen economic relations, an estimated 400 Venezuelan business people will begin exhibiting their goods during a four-day trade fair in Havana. Chavez is expected to travel to Cuba on Thursday.

Chavez is a close friend and ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, a relationship that has irked many in Washington. He has vowed to help create a new socialism for the 21st century during his tenure as president of this oil-rich South American nation.