Chavez: Lula victory would be positive for South America

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Sep 1 09:40:58 MDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: Walter Lippmann
To: CubaNews ; Change Links
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 10:31 AM
Subject: [CubaNews] Chavez backs Lula for Latin America

Venezuelan president:
Lula victory in Brazilian elections
would signal positive change for
South America

Sat Aug 31, 6:29 PM ET
By STEPHEN IXER, Associated Press Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez said Saturday
that leftist candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would help
bring more justice to South America if he won Brazil's
presidential elections.

"Lula is a great man," Chavez told foreign reporters at a
news conference. "The left is going to win in Brazil.
Changes are coming step by step on this continent. I think
about it day and night."

Polls show Lula, of the leftist Workers' Party, leading the
Brazilian race with 37 percent, trailed by ex-Finance
Minister Ciro Gomes with 20 percent and government candidate
Jose Serra with 19 percent.

Markets have reacted nervously to the prospect of Lula's
victory. Lula himself has sought to calm those jitters,
recently pledging to honor Brazil's dlrs 30 billion aid deal
with the International Monetary Fund if he wins the October

But Chavez said Lula's lead in the race signaled that
positive changes were sweeping South America - changes
leading the region away from free market reforms that the
Venezuelan president blames for increasing the gap between
rich and poor.

Another sign was that indigenous representatives grabbed an
unprecedented 35 of 157 seats in recent Bolivian
congressional elections, Chavez said. Such developments have
given him confidence that movements like his own self-styled
leftist "revolution" would "emerge not only in this
continent but in the whole world," he added.

The president spoke moments before leaving to participate in
the World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chavez is an
outspoken critic of unchecked capitalism and a fervent
admirer of Latin American leftists like Cuban President
Fidel Castro.

Despite his rhetoric, however, Chavez has mostly respected
Venezuela's market economy. He hasn't nationalized any
industries and he recently hailed deals with five foreign
oil companies to exploit Venezuela's largest natural gas

Even so, opposition leaders charge his anti-business
rhetoric has deepened social class divisions and alienated
investment. Blaming a 7 percent economic contraction in the
first half of the year on incoherent government policies,
Chavez opponents are trying to organize a referendum to oust
him before his term ends in 2007.

Chavez rejects the criticism. On Saturday, he reiterated his
theory that the economic crisis was mostly due to deliberate
"sabotage" by opposition business and labor leaders -
including strikes and protests that helped provoke a failed
coup in April. He said he was confident the economy would
start to recover in the second half the year as it begins to
benefit from a boom in international oil prices.

Venezuela will urge the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries to maintain its current production quotas at the
group's Sept. 19 meeting in Osaka, Japan, Chavez said.
Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the
Hemisphere, depends on oil for half of government income and
80 percent of export revenue.

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