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Lula and Chavez Disagree on South American Summit. Brazil Position Wins

Latinamerican leaders meeting in Bolivia ended the second summit of the South American community of nations with a call for greater regional integration that was openly considered "insufficient" particularly by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

Demanding the establishment of a permanent structure for the South American community Chavez complained his initiative had not been included in the final Cochabamba Declaration, "without a structure, how do we advance?"

Chile’s Michelle Bachelet and Brazil’s Lula da Silva argued in favor of no permanent structures and only agreed to a pro tempore secretariat and a "Committee of High Officials" with seat in Brazil.

Chavez protested saying he wanted a "standing secretariat" following on the steps of the European Union experience.

Chile and Brazil led the group against "rigid structures" and in favor of free trade and the "diversity of development models".

The final text talks of a "pluralist integrationist model, respectful of diversity and differences, recognizing the different political and ideological concepts which are the essence of democratic plurality".

The eight presidents present at the meeting agreed that the guiding principles of the South American community are solidarity and the search for equality; elimination of asymmetries; respect for territorial integrity and peoples’ self determination.

More specifically a "new South American social contract is needed"; energy and financial integration and an infrastructure for the inter linkage of the region’s peoples".

Chile’s Bachelet underlined that "with no social development there’s no economic growth" adding that "social inclusion is fundamental, not only because of income distribution, but related to gender issues, territorial distribution, etc".

Brazil, Chile and Peru pointed out that not only must the diversity of models be accepted, "but also hard work is needed to integrate and insert our economies through free trade in the globalized world".

Peruvian president Alan Garcia said that the region "unquestionably needs free trade agreements that open new markets for our economies", and this "does not mean we are betraying integration".

In his closing speech Garcia recalled that in the eighties he favored the moratorium of foreign debt and a closed economy but "time and experience have convinced me that is not the path to progress and development".

But besides strong debates and positions the summit in Bolivia helped to reconcile Peru’s Garcia and Venezuela’s Chavez who were not on speaking terms since the Peruvian presidential election and had withdrawn their respective ambassadors.

Garcia had accused Chavez of meddling in Peru’s internal affairs by openly supporting and partially funding his main rival Ollanta Humala.

Chavez replied by calling Garcia a "thief" and a "corrupt puppet of the Americans".

"There’s a great relation, good chemistry, we both have strong social feelings", said Garcia following the reconciliation reached in Cochabamba.

Mercopress

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