Brazilian president defends Chavez and criticizes US

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met the leaders of Colombia, Venezuela and Spain, in Ciudad Guyana, 500 km (311 miles) from Caracas, in Venezuela, Tuesday, March 29.

The regional summit aimed to improve the diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela, that had been shaken after the arrest of the FARC communist member Rodrigo Granda, in December, last year.

The following leaders were present at the meeting: the President of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Velez; the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero; the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez; and the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

During the summit, the Brazilian president defended the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and he criticized indirectly the government of the United States for his opinions in relation to Chávez. According to Lula, South America is capable of taking care of its own problems.

Lula said: "We do not accept defamations against our "companheiros" (comrades). We do not accept insinuations against comrades. Venezuela has the right to be a sovereign country, to take its own decisions". Lula also added that he is not afraid of doing this affirmation in "any place of the world".

The US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was in Brazil on March 22 and he said that he was very worried about the political situation in Venezuela. Venezuela is buying weapons and warlike material in great quantity and Washington is considering the country a harmful influence in the region. Recently Venezuela announced that it would buy 100,000 AK-47 rifles.

Lula also said:"I believe that Venezuela has the right to be a sovereign country, of making its own decisions and, at the same time, Venezuela does not need to be accused of things that those who are with you know that this is not part of your thought nor of your behavior."

"There is[sic] many people talking badly about us in the world", he added.

The Venezuelan President did a calmer speech for the US: "We are not here to cause problems to anybody, for any reason. We were called to form this new geopolitical map, without confrontation with nobody (...) because it is convenient for us and all: it is convenient for the investors, for international businessmen, for national businessmen and for the United States themselves."

Chávez and Lula both denied any involvement between their governments and the FARC guerrilla.

The Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Zapatero said: "This is a meeting for the dialogue and the cooperation between free and democratic nations that want the advance of their people".