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Crisis-torn Venezuelan Island Welcomes World Leaders

  • VOA News

Government supporters attend a ceremony unveiling the statue of Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez during the 17th Non-Aligned Summit, a meeting held by a Cold War-era group of 120 nations, in Porlamar on Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sept 16, 2016.

Government supporters attend a ceremony unveiling the statue of Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez during the 17th Non-Aligned Summit, a meeting held by a Cold War-era group of 120 nations, in Porlamar on Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sept 16, 2016.

A resort island in Venezuela, marked by economic crisis and political protests, welcomes leaders from the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement gathering Saturday and Sunday for its 17th summit.

The crisis-torn island of Margarita is a former tourist destination that has become blighted with trash on streets, scarcity of food and water, rampant crime and a dwindling number of foreign visitors; until this week.

President Nicolas Maduro has allocated money for the island to make sure everything is ready for the summit; a move condemned by opposition leaders who say the meeting is costing Venezuelans millions.

According to Venezuela's Presidential Press, members of the Non-Aligned Movement - a group that still seeks relevance in a post-Cold War world - will discuss topics that include peace, economic development and disarmament.

"We hope to reach important agreement with other countries that we want to have a fair price for our hydrocarbons," Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino said.

Venezuela, an OPEC member and home to the world's largest proven oil reserves, is also seeking support for its campaign to cut global crude production in a bid to raise prices.

"We don't want prices to be in the hands of speculators, as has been happening for the past two years," he said.

Despite massive reserves, Venezuela imports oil.

The economic crisis and oil crunch in the country have caused food shortages and riots.

Margarita Island has also been the scene of anti-government protests where dozens of people were arrested after Maduro was greeted by pot-banging demonstrators during one of his visits.

According to reports, more than 14,000 police and military personnel have been deployed to the region to head off any possible turmoil at the summit site.

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