Bush Shows In Brazil How to Give Chavez the Silence Treatment

Venezuela's President Chavez waves to a crowd US President George Bush told his Brazilian counterpart that he has decided to "minimize" reactions to statements from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, reported the Brazilian press. "During private conversations last Friday, March 9, Bush transmitted to his Brazilian hosts the clear feeling that he's willing to minimize reactions to Chavez' initiatives and provocations," Folha de S. Paulo published in Sunday's edition.

Bush was in Brazil last Thursday and Friday where both countries signed an agreement to make United States and Brazil leaders in the world market of ethanol and biofuels, in the framework of Washington's plan to reduce oil dependency.

Parallel to Bush's trip to São Paulo, Chavez visited President Nestor Kirchner in Argentina where besides signing several energy accords he was the main speaker at a political rally organized to blast President's Bush to Latinamerica and his attempt to "divide the region" with promises of bolstering trade and cooperation.

During the rally Chavez described Bush as a "political corpse" saying he only has 22 months left in office, public opinion in the US is against him and Congress is now under control of the opposition Democrats.

According to Folha, Washington's strategy is avoiding reactions and frustrate Chavez provocation attempts to attract attention and become the regional leader of the "anti Bush" movement.

"The Chavez issue was addressed lightly and without much concern during the meeting of Bush with President Lula da Silva, contrary to what was anticipated by US government sources before the beginning of the trip," adds Folha.

According to Brazilian sources, there were no requests from President Bush to act before the Venezuelan leader. During his stops in Brazil and Uruguay, President Bush was very careful not to mention President Chavez name, although he was bombarded with questions about the rivalry.

However Bush's visit to the region was considered by US analysts and comments in the US press as an attempt to counter balance the growing influence of Chavez and his "petrodollars" in the region.

"This is particularly the case with Uruguay, which is disenchanted with Mercosur, is struggling for new markets and would like a closer trade and cooperation relation with the US." reported the Brazilian press.

Actually Brazilian president Lula da Silva made a brief long delayed visit to Uruguay just a week before Bush's tour promising better access for Uruguayan products and soft loans for infrastructure investments.

Chavez Laughs at US

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez visited flood-ravaged Bolivia on Saturday to show off the fact that his country has pledged 10 times more aid than the United States Bush administration.

Bolivia was the latest stop on a Chavez tour intended to upstage President Bush's own trip through Latin America. While Bush visited Brazil on Friday, Chavez packed a football stadium in neighboring Argentina, telling a crowd of 20,000 supporters that Bush's tour was a cynical attempt to divide the region.

Thousands of Bolivians, joined by Venezuelan and Cuban aid workers, greeted Chavez at the airport in Trinidad, a city in Bolivia's eastern lowlands where a rainy season has killed 51 people, driven thousands from their homes and triggered an outbreak of dengue fever.

Chavez has pledged US$ 15 million in aid for flood victims, including a squadron of helicopters to deliver food to remote villages, ten times the 1.5 million sent by the U.S.

"Those who want to go directly to hell, they can follow capitalism," Chavez told the crowd of some 2.000 Bolivian flood victims and Venezuelan and Cuban aid workers gathered on the steaming airport runway. "And those of us who want to build heaven here on Earth, we will follow socialism."

Morales and Chavez were also scheduled to distribute shiny red tractors jointly made by Venezuela and Iran. Since Morales took office a year ago, Chavez has pledged over a billion US dollars for Bolivian petroleum projects, community radio stations and a factory to make tea from coca leaves.

In contrast, the Bush administration's 2008 budget proposal slashes U.S. aid to Bolivia by more than 20% from 125 million to 98 million, part of a deep aid cut targeting much of Latin America.

Mercopress

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