As recall referendum approaches, Chavez, Lula offer aid to Morales

Ana Maria Fabbri, 18 Jul 2008

RIBERALTA, Bolivia, July 18 (Reuters) - Venezuela and Brazil pledged infrastructure financing to Bolivia on Friday, as foreign aid takes central stage in President Evo Morales' campaign to hang on to power in an August recall vote.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Brazil's Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva met with Morales in steamy Riberalta, in the Bolivian Amazon, to express support for the indigenous leader and pledged $530 million in loans for road building.

Landlocked Bolivia is the poorest nation in South America and its huge neighbor Brazil is its biggest foreign investor. Venezuela is a major provider of aid because leftists Chavez and Morales are ideological allies.

"We're against those who want to tear Bolivia apart. Here is Evo bringing all the Bolivian regions together, (governing) for everyone ... for democracy and development," said a sweaty Chavez wearing his trademark red shirt.

Right-wing governors from five Bolivian provinces have presented a major challenge to Morales, fighting for more autonomy for their regions and stalling some of his key policies such as an ambitious land redistribution plan.

Lula also praised Morales and pledged that Brazil would continue to invest in energy projects.

The Aug. 10 recall vote applies to the president and eight of the nine governors in Bolivia.

The unusual recall rules are based on the number of votes officials received when they were elected in late 2005. So to remain in office Morales needs only 46.3 percent of the vote, while his rivals need between 62.1 percent and 52 percent.

Since he started campaigning in June to beat the recall, Morales has handed out scores of Venezuelan checks for education, health and infrastructure projects at rallies.

He has also pledged to build roads, schools and sports grounds worth million of dollars that would also be paid with funds provided by oil-rich Venezuela.

During the summit in Riberalta, Chavez signed a deal to lend Bolivia $300 million for a road that will link Bolivia's administrative capital La Paz with the northern region of Beni. Lula agreed to lend Bolivia $230 million for the same project. (Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Eric Walsh)

Republished from Reuters

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sharing resources and unity between LatinAmerican governments
will make the process socialism grow stonger to stand up to the imperialism of the North.
Also defending eachother in case of invasions of sovereignty against any attack.