The New York Times
November 27, 2008
LA GUAIRA, Venezuela — The ceremony capping the first visit of a Russian president to Venezuela, like the rest of the president’s visit, was heavy on pomp and symbolism: President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia met Thursday aboard a Russian warship moored at this port city before the countries engage in joint military exercises. Hundreds of Russian sailors in white uniforms stood at attention as the two men boarded the ship.
But while Mr. Chávez and Mr. Medvedev signed accords during the two-day visit intended to find ways of cooperating in areas like nuclear energy and oil exploration, among other things, the meeting did not yield detailed timetables for bringing such deals to fruition. In Venezuela, the announcement of such agreements often leads nowhere, in part because of difficulties in doing business here.
Beyond next week’s naval maneuvers, no other military cooperation projects were announced. The nuclear accord, which raised the trip’s profile, would involve Russian assistance for developing a nuclear energy program in Venezuela, a country already rich in petroleum and hydroelectric resources.
The leaders presided over a brief ceremony on the warship, for a deal in which Venezuela said it would buy two Ilyushin Il-96 passenger jets, before Mr. Medvedev’s bodyguards whisked him away so the Russian delegation could leave for Cuba, its last destination on a four-nation tour through Latin America.
Earlier, Mr. Chávez decorated the Russian president with a heavy gold necklace, the Grand Collar of the Order of the Liberator Simón Bolívar, after Mr. Medvedev laid a wreath on the tomb of Bolívar, the liberation hero.
Mr. Medvedev’s visit to Venezuela was part of a Russian attempt to gain a foothold in Latin America.
In Havana, Mr. Medvedev met with President Raúl Castro, according to The Associated Press. He was also expected to visit a newly consecrated Russian Orthodox cathedral in Old Havana before leaving Cuba on Friday, The A.P. reported.