Skip to comments.Cuba's Castro Says Venezuelan Chavez Speaks for Him
Posted on 03/18/2002 2:11:57 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Cuban president Fidel Castro said (on) Sunday his friend and ally, president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, could speak for him and his revolutionary ideas at a world development conference in Mexico this week.
"Even if I don't go, we, I, feel represented in your words," Castro told Chavez in a telephone call during a marathon live broadcast of the Venezuelan leader's weekly "Hello President" television and radio program.
The 75-year-old Cuban leader, who swapped banter, baseball talk and mutual praise with his younger counterpart during the on-air chat, said he had not yet made up his mind whether to attend the March 18-22 International Conference on Financing for Development in the Mexican city of Monterrey
The United Nations meeting will bring together some 50 heads of state, including President Bush and representatives from 100 other countries, who will seek ways to boost rich nations' funding of programs to help the poor.
Chavez, a 47-year-old former paratrooper who has strengthened oil-rich Venezuela's ties with Communist Cuba, has often praised Castro's socialist revolution and expressed similar anti-capitalist and "anti-imperialist" views.
Hailing the Venezuelan leader's "spirit and enthusiasm", the veteran Cuban president said Chavez would address the U.N. conference in Mexico as president of the Group of 77, which represents more than 130 developing countries.
"No other voice could be better than yours to defend the interests of the (Group of) 77. ... You will have the possibility of putting forward the point of view of the progressive people of the world," Castro added.
Chavez, hosting a special 100th edition of his "Hello President" show lasting nearly seven hours, also received calls of congratulation from Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo and the Dominican Republic's president, Hipolito Mejia.
The Cuban leader's public praise for Chavez was certain to infuriate political opponents of the Venezuelan leader and his self-proclaimed "Bolivarian Revolution".
UNITED AGAINST ATTACKS
Chavez's foes accuse him of trying to imitate Castro and Cuba's Revolution by trying to install a leftist authoritarian regime in Venezuela, the world's No. 4 oil exporter.
The Venezuelan president, who won elections in 1998 six years after trying to seize power in a botched military coup, says his nationalist "revolution' is inspired by 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar and seeks to close the wide gap between rich and poor in his oil-rich country.
Castro and Chavez hailed their nations' strong political and economic ties, which have been criticized by the United States. Washington is the biggest single client for Venezuela's oil exports but keeps long-running trade sanctions on Cuba.
"However much they attack us, we are creating a new model of integration," the Venezuelan president said.
Castro, who described himself as "an expert in putting up with attacks", urged Chavez to stand firm against criticism from his political enemies.
"We've been under attack for 43 years and today the Revolution is stronger than ever," Castro said, referring to U.S. hostility against Havana since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
The two leaders ended their on-air chat with the revolutionary slogan "Always onwards until victory".
Chavez also used the "Hello President" program to warn his opponents that he was losing patience with their continuing efforts to stir up opposition to his three-year-old rule through political conspiracies and talk of coup plots.
"If you carry on with this, I'm going to be waiting for you and I'll expose you to the Venezuelan people," he said, adding his foes included political figures, media owners and bankers.
The tough-talking president has seen his popularity plunge in recent months and has faced growing criticism from opposition politicians, business and labor leaders, the Catholic Church and dissident military officers.
Chavez has brushed aside the criticism, scoffed at coup fears and vowed to press ahead with contested reforms covering everything from oil and land to fisheries and finances, which he says are aimed at fairly distributing Venezuela's oil wealth.
Chavez accused opposition labor and political leaders of sowing discontent at Petroleos de Venezuela SA and said he had a contingency plan ready should workers and management go on strike. He didn't elaborate on the plan.
"If they shut down the company, we'll militarize it. I am not going to allow Petroleos de Venezuela to be shut down," Chavez said.
"It won't bother me to continue to fulfill my obligation, to sign an emergency decree. This is a company of high strategic value, and I am ready to order its intervention and throw out those who don't want to be there," he said. [End Excerpt]
Venezuelans hope people power will persuade Chavez to resign [Excerpt] But analysts say that the current surge of dissatisfaction in South America is rooted in the entrenched poverty and deficiencies of governments. The region's decadelong commitment to democracy, which was heralded as a panacea, instead has generated a crisis of expectations that is proving contagious. [End Excerpt]
Women protest against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a march of thousands in Caracas March 8, 2002. Hundreds of executive and office staff of Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA staged an unprecedented four-hour work stoppage, intensifying their protest against a government-ordered management overhaul. The temporary administrative stoppage is the strongest protest action to date by the PDVSA dissidents. REUTERS/Chico Sanchez - Mar 08 1:53 PM ET
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Too many rats!
I wouldn't get in the way.
We'd have fewer a--holes in the world...
He is also systematically destroying democracy in that country. He has to be removed.
I hope the Venezuelans can get rid of him NOW! It's too dangerous to wait until he strikes back and eliminates the opposition, which is just a matter of time.