Saturday, November 05, 2005

At Argentine Summit Xenue, Chávez Hails Anti-US Protesters

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 At Argentine Summit Xenue, Chávez Hails Anti-US Protesters
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (EFE) – The Venezuelan president billed as a star of the Summit of the Americas that kicked off here,

said upon arrival Friday that, before he attends the inaugural ceremony with his counterparts, he will address the big anti-U.S. “counter-summit” that has brought together thousands of leftists and opponents of globalization.

Hugo Chávez, an admirer of Fidel Castro who has grown increasingly virulent in his denunciations of U.S. “imperialism,” described himself as “very enthused, animated and inspired” at the foot of the stairway from the plane that carried him to Mar del Plata.
He hailed the participants in the “Summit of the People” being held as a parallel, grassroots event, describing the leftists, unionists and anti-globalization proponents as “the soul of this land.” Chávez’ stated intention of decrying U.S. policies in the region during the summit, which ended Saturday, had drawn so much attention, that the Bush administration felt obliged this week to downplay the Vene-zuelan’s role.
“This summit is not about Hugo Chávez,” U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
“The purpose of the summit is for the democratically elected leaders to get together and reaffirm the fact that there is really a shared vision for the hemisphere that is based on democracy and free markets and free trade,” he said.
Bush and his Latin American and Caribbean counterparts undoubtedly will discuss hemispheric trade, though no one is predicting the U.S. leader will achieve a resuscitation of the stalled Free Trade Area of the Americas project.
The White House, along with its trade allies such as Mexico and Chile, has insisted that reference to the FTAA be made in the final declaration produced by the summit.
The proposed pact has been pronounced “dead” by Chávez, a far cry from its framers’ original plan a decade ago for a vibrant free trade zone stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego by this year.
The former army colonel, expected to be the main leftist voice at the summit, says one of the principal objectives of the conclave here is “to bury the FTAA.”
But a mention of the pact in implicit recognition that it has not yet given up the ghost is probably all its remaining supporters can hope for.


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