Prensa Latina / SANA, translated from the Spanish by CCHS
Comandante Hugo Chavez made his first official visit to the Syrian Arab Republic in August 2006, when he held several work activities with the Syrian government, headed by its President, Bashar Al Assad. On this first visit of the Comandante Chavez to Syria, in addition to strengthening and bringing closer political relations, with a fraternal hug to the peoples, several agreements of cooperation were made in the economic, commercial and investment fields.
Venezuela’s Supreme Commander was also invested with the distinction of Doctor Honoris Causa in International Relations at the Faculty of Economy and Commerce of the University of Damascus, in a special ceremony where different Syrian personalities and intellectuals praised the firmness of the Comandante Chávez for his defense of Arab causes.
On this first visit, Comandante Hugo Chavez made a floral offering at the Unknown Soldier memorial in Damascus, the Capital of Syria. He visited the Umayyad Mosque, which has the remains of Saint John the Baptist, and whose religious temple is a global example of tolerance, since annually millions of visitors from all faiths make their pilgrimage to this sacred monument to fulfil their spiritual ambitions.
In September 2009, Comandante Chavez made his second visit to the Syrian Arab Republic. On this occasion the governments of Venezuela and Syria agreed not only to diversify in commercial exchange but proposed to maintain a closer relationship in information exchange and I the development of bilateral cooperation. As a result, several framework agreements were signed in the scientific, technical, economic, financial, commercial, industrial, agricultural, cultural and educational fields.
On this second visit, Comandante Chávez visited the city of Sweida, about 100 kilometers south of the Damascus Capital. There thousands of Syrian citizens, lined the avenues and received him with songs, applause and a rain of flowers. In the football stadium of that city Comandante Chávez gave an emotional speech to thousands of Arabs, many those with Syrian and Venezuelan nationality: “I feel that I am Syrian and I am committed to the Syrian people … I feel that Damascus is my home and Sweida is my home, ”said Chávez.
During the work meetings Comandante Chávez proposed the creation of a TELESUR headquarters in Syria, to break the media monopolies and, in this way, spread the reality from the countries and towns of the Arab region to Latin America.
Then, with the accompaniment of the people and their work team, Comandante Chávez inaugurated Venezuela Avenue, laid the foundation stone of the headquarters of the
Syrian-Venezuelan Friendship Association and planted an apple tree as a symbol of solidarity and brotherhood with the people of Syria and with the Arab peoples.
In October 2010, Comandante Chávez made a third visit to the Syrian Arab Republic, in order to continue strengthening bilateral relations. During this visit several work meetings were held between the Venezuelan and Syrian delegations, leading in particular to the creation of the Syrian – Venezuelan Business Council, with the participation of public and private entrepreneurs. Its purpose was to strengthen energy, agricultural, tourism, industrial and financial cooperation and exchange, based on the interests of the two countries. In these meetings Comandante Chávez emphasized: “We must encourage investors and entrepreneurs from both countries to strengthen commercial exchange.”
Subsequently, Comandante Chávez visited the Peoples Palace where he held a meeting with the President of Syria, Bashar Al – Assad. At the end of a private meeting they held a joint press conference in which they highlighted the importance of strengthening friendship ties and relations between the Arab region and South America. President Al – Assad took advantage of the time to announce Syria’s accession to ALBA as a permanent guest member.
For his part, Comandante Chavez said:
“We are in the new world, which is no longer unipolar, the multipolar world has been born. Damascus is one of the poles, we are not talking about superpoles of great powers, but of human poles, of love, of struggle, and we in Venezuela have another pole … we have established an alliance with Syria based on love between the people of Syria and Venezuela.”
Presidents Bashar Al – Assad and Hugo Chávez visited the Christian shrines of the church of St. George and the Convent of St. Tecla in the city of Maalula, about 50 km northwest of Damascus, where they received the blessings of the spiritual guides in the Aramaic language, the language spoken by Jesus Christ.
Chavez said, before leaving Damascus: “I am like an Arab, I have toured the deserts of Arabia. The Syrian people have offered us pure love, that love has its roots, has its fire, this people knows that we revolutionaries are with them. ”
“There is nothing impossible with love and we of Syria and Venezuela have love, our people love each other. Let’s build great things, because great things can only be built with love, with sentiment, with spirit.”