VIO News Blog

December 17, 2008

Latin American Summit Highlights Progress in the Region

A Latin American summit is taking place in Brazil with the participation of leaders from 31 countries. Sources report that leaders pointed to the absence of the U.S. as a sign of change. “There was a time when our friend Chavez was all alone,” said Brazilian President Lula da Silva, highlighting new progressive democratic governments in Bolivia and Paraguay. The AP reports that Chavez said: “The important thing is that we are here together, without the patronage of the empire.” The Times reports that the U.S. was made a “punching bag” at the event, but the AP quotes an expert who says: “This is a healthy development and should not be seen as a rejection of the U.S.”

The 12 member countries of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) agreed to form a South American Defense Council, according to AFP. The decision was reached in Brazil yesterday just before the broader Latin American summit. The AP wrongly states that Venezuela “challenged Brazil’s idea for a regional defense council” by holding joint military exercises with Russia, but the council was in fact Chile’s initiative, and South American countries have not expressed wariness over the maneuvers. Nor did U.S. leaders — according to CBS, the head of Southern Command said: “I don’t think that Russia and Venezuela are really serious about putting together a military coalition… to oppose anybody.”

OPEC oil ministers are meeting in Algeria today, and the AFP reports that they have moved to cut output by up to up to 2.6 million barrels. This could be the largest production cut made by OPEC since its formation. “We think it should stabilize at $70, $80, $90. That would be fair,” Chavez said yesterday, according to Reuters.

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