Chavez Reveals Brazil’s Lula Is Flying to Cuba to Visit Ailing Fidel

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Brazil on Wednesday for discussions on energy and infrastructure cooperation between the two countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was declared winner of Sunday’s election, arrived in Brasí­lia, capital of Brazil on Wednesday, kicking off a four-nation tour of South American countries.

Chavez was received today by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the Palácio do Planalto, the presidential office in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia, where they discussed the energy needs of both countries.

They also talked about the Petrobras/PDVSA partnership as well as the construction of the 9,000 km natural gas pipeline that would link Venezuela’s vast gas reserves to Brazil, Argentina and other countries.

Chavez had dinner with Lula on Wednesday at Palácio da Alvorada, the president’s official residency.

After meeting with Lula this Thursday, Chavez told reporters that the Brazilian President is planning a trip to Cuba to visit Fidel Castro, who is recuperating from an undisclosed disease.

"Lula expressed his wish to visit Fidel. We are worried. I got a note from Fidel two or three days ago and the information I have from Cuba is that the recovery is still slow," said Chavez. And he added:

"I ask God, and I know that Fidel does not believe in God, but there is a saying that God helps Chavez and his friends. So, I ask God that he help this good friend who fought for the Latin America peoples dignity."

The Brazilian government did not confirm the Cuba visit and informed that Lula’s last trip this year will be to Cochabamba, in Bolivia, this Friday and Saturday, December 8 and 9. The Brazilian president might go see Castro when he flies January 10 to Nicaragua for president Daniel Ortega’s inauguration.

Speaking to media in Caracas before the visit, Chavez said he will travel to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia to show the internationalist character of his government.

The trip aims to strengthen the Caracas-Brasí­lia-Buenos Aires axis, he said, adding it will also consolidate Venezuela as a member of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur).

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela signed an agreement on July 4, giving Venezuela full membership of Mercosur.

After Brazil, Chavez will fly to Argentina to discuss Venezuela’s full incorporation to Mercosur before heading to Bolivia for a summit of South American leaders, including newly elected Ecuador leftist Rafael Correa.

Chavez said at the Brasí­lia airport that Nicaraguan President-elect Daniel Ortega was staying in Caracas. Early reports had suggested Ortega would fly to Brazil with Chavez.

On Tuesday, Chavez met in Caracas with Ortega, who lauded Chavez’s reelection triumph as "a victory for the Venezuelan people and the Latin American people."

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