Chavez, Visiting Bolivia, Says Socialism `Solution' for Region

Theresa Bradley

March 10 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will sign a series of economic and aid accords with his Bolivian counterpart tomorrow, as he crisscrosses Latin America to meet allies and counter President George W. Bush's visit to the region.

Chavez, who this afternoon visited flood-ravaged areas of Bolivia's northeastern Beni state, pledged to boost aid and energy cooperation, and follow through on an agreement made yesterday to incorporate Bolivia into Argentina's and Venezuela's new Bank of the South.

``This is the solution we need, not the crumbs of the empire,'' Chavez told crowds gathered to greet him in the Andean town of Trinidad, where floods have left thousands homeless. ``This is the integral road for our peoples' development: the road has to be the road of socialism, socialism of the 21st century.''

Chavez's tour, which began yesterday with meetings and a so- called anti-imperialist rally that drew an estimated 30,000 in Buenos Aires, coincides with the U.S. president's own five- country trip across Latin America, widely seen as an effort to contain Chavez's rising influence.

Still, Venezuelan aid to the region -- in cash, credit and subsidized oil -- dwarfs the $1.6 billion U.S. package that Bush this week emphasized.

Disaster Relief

Chavez, a close ally of Bolivian President Evo Morales, has sent $17 million in disaster relief aid, including 180 tons of tools, food and medicine, as well as helicopters, tractors and water purifying equipment, since weeks of heavy rain flooded the land-locked country, displacing tens of thousands of families last month.

Chavez today suggested that Venezuela and Cuba tap cash from a multimillion dollar fund belonging to his Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, known by its Spanish acronym ALBA, to replace Bolivian roads, schools, crops and livestock lost to rising floodwaters.

The ALBA is a regional aid and trade initiative Chavez designed to counter the U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

``Never as Bolivians will we forget this great solidarity at such a difficult time,'' Morales, who was elected in 2005 with Chavez's tacit support, said today. ``During my campaign, they said, `If Evo is president, we're never going to get any help.' Now we see: to the contrary!''

Bank of the South

Chavez and Morales also plan to sign tomorrow an agreement joining Bolivia to the Bank of the South, a credit initiative formed by Venezuela and Argentina to promote regional integration and temper their nations' reliance on multilateral banks.

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner officially approved Bolivia's participation in the bank in one of 11 accords he and Chavez signed in Buenos Aires, Venezuelan state media said.

Once the accords are signed, Chavez plans to travel to Managua, where he will meet Nicaraguan President and ally Daniel Ortega tomorrow evening.

``A new people's battle to liberate us and pursue the goal of ending dependence and building unity has begun,'' Chavez said today. ``The revolution is multiplying, and that's what the empire is afraid of.''

Reprinted from Bloomberg

1 comment:

Dave Riley said...

This "line in the sand" politics that is unfolding in LAm is a
extraordinary development. It makes Jorge Bush look like a fool.

He told his audience in Brazil that the US has neglected LA -- you bet
it has! In terms of political focus it was a mistake to sink into this
War on Terror orientation because in effect, it left the mobilisations of millions into political struggle off the hook.

Where's the Cold War when you need it?

Look at what's happening at each Bush stopover -- protests and the
like -- whereas Chavez is being met by these amazing rallies in
support. The Argentine one -- of some 40,000 --watched on video is

The Bush presidency will be marked by a dual legacy -- the Iraq
debacle and the rise of Chavez. In effect a new assertion of the
Vietnam syndrome plunging a dagger into the heart of imperialism.

I suggest folk make a point of monitoring or subscribing to Fred's
Bolivia Rising as there is a lot of contradictory processes in play
with Evo Morales

Whats' also interesting is that if you monitor Al Jazera, and compare
that to local media coverage, it is Chavez who has the pin up boy
status with a pitch that is completely different from the caricature we get fed by the big media players here.

The associated irony is that those hard left groups internationally
who choose to stand apart from the Bolivarian process are committing
the crime of irrelevance as the Venezuelan process seems to parallel the political consequences of the Cuban one almost 50 years ago.

They didn't get that right so this time around they want to repeat the

But what in effect may be happening is the political divide that
splits the Americas could create a new bi-polar planet fostered even
more if the US invades Iran.Thats' what so interesting about the
diplomatic initiatives of the Chavez government.

You can see the consequences of this divide in the everyday collapse of the arrogant stance of the Howard government here because
underpinning all this is the ideological fall out.

Any one with any political savvy has to start coming around to the POV that Hugo Chavez is the best political ally we've got and we haven't had anyone or anything like that on I side since the days when
Gorbachev first rachetted up Perestroika. But the Gorbachev process was exposed by its unwillingness and incapacity to stand up to the Gulf War in 1991.

But that's not the case with Chavez.

Great times indeed...

Bolivia Rising