Brazil’s Lula Comes in Defense of Chí¡vez in Spat with King Juan Carlos

Chavez talks to Brazilian president Lula Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, minimized this Wednesday, November 14, the  significance of the  altercation between Venezuela President, Hugo Chávez, and the king of Spain, Juan Carlos, in the Ibero-American Summit closing session, which was held in Chile, last week.

According to Lula, there was no exaggeration in the verbal exchange and the whole affair didn't bring about any malaise among the Summit participants. Disagreements are common among chiefs of state, he argued. .

During the summit closing session, on November 10, the Venezuelan leader called Spain's former Prime Minister José Maria Aznar a Fascist due to his supposed involvement in a coup attempt against Chávez in 2002.

Offended by Chávez remarks, the current Spanish Premier, José Luiz Zapatero, asked for respect and also for adoption of a rule that would require that current and former Ibero-American leaders be respected. Chávez kept interrupting Zapatero's reasoning and was asked to shut up by the King who told him: "¿Por qué no te callas?"

"There is disagreement not only between King Juan Carlos and Chávez. There are many disagreements between other chiefs of state. Disagreement is part of a democratic encounter," said Lula, after meeting the president of Guiné-Bissau, João Bernardo Nino Vieira, in the Itamaraty, Brazil's foreign ministry's Palace.

"I don't think there was any exaggeration," he told reporters. "You know what was the difference? The king was present at the meeting. It wasn't one of us [presidents]. Between us, we disagree a lot,"  he justified.

In defense of Chávez, Lula said that Venezuela is a democratic country. "You can criticize Chávez for any thing. But never for lack of democracy in Venezuela. In Venezuela, they already had three referendums, three elections, four plebiscites," the Brazilian president stated.

Lula once again compared the staying of European leaders for many years in power and the constitutional reform proposed by Chávez, which would allow the president of Venezuela to be re-elected as many times as he wishes, if approved in a referendum to be held December 2.

"Why nobody complained when Margaret Thatcher [British prime minister between 1979 and 1990] stayed so long in power?," he asked. "It is continuism and there is nothing different here.  All that changes is the system. Presidentialism in one case, parliamentarism in another. The regime doesn't matter, it's the exercise of power that does," Lula added.

The Brazilian leader also informed about rescheduling his visit to Cuba, initially set for November 22 and 23. Lula said that he'd rather have more time to analyze a series of requests made by the Cuban government during the Chile summit.

"Instead of going now, I prefer delaying the trip for 30 days, in order to prepare this new proposal from the Cubans and then take there an agreement with many more things than the previous one," said Lula, explaining that he intends to increase Cuba's credit to buy Brazilian food and to prospect oil. 

Besides Cuba, the presidential itinerary includes visits to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.



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