VIO News Blog

October 1, 2008

Latin American Leaders Unite to Condemn US “Casino” Economy

South American leaders met in Brazil yesterday. President Chavez and Brazil’s Lula da Silva held their own regular quarterly meeting, at which seven bilateral agreements were signed in the areas of iron and steel production, oil refining, agriculture, and housing. The leaders of Bolivia and Ecuador were also present, and all were critical of the US financial crisis, according to Bloomberg. Lula da Silva said: “Those that spent the last three decades telling us what to do, didn’t do what they had to do. The crisis is very serious and so profound that we don’t know how big it is.” The AP reports that President Chavez likened it to “a hundred hurricanes” and said that “the Washington consensus has collapsed.”

Other Latin American leaders have also spoken out, according to the AP; President Arias of trade-dependent Costa Rica said, “The managers of big business took huge risks out of greed.” Even the right-wing Bush ally Alvaro Uribe of Colombia complained, “The whole world has financed the United States, and I believe that they have a reciprocal debt with the planet.” A Washington Post headline reads that the US financial  crisis “deepens divisions” in South America, but the situation appears quite the opposite.

US Congressmen sent a letter to President Chavez yesterday rebuking him for having expelled two Human Rights Watch employees after their very negative evaluation on his administration, according to the AP. The report, which accused the government of curtailing political rights and free expression, was rejected by Venezuelan officials. Human Rights Watch consulted opposition leaders for their report, which painted a limited picture of human rights in Venezuela. It also came after a series of US attacks, including US Treasury Department sanctions, State Department blacklistings against Venezuela on drugs and terrorism. Venezuelan officials viewed the report as more “meddling” in internal affairs.

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