US Sponsored FTAA Will Be Buried at Americas Summit, Says Chavez

    Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez forecasted that the coming Americas Summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina will definitively "bury" the United States sponsored Free Trade of the Americas Association, FTAA.

    "I’m convinced the peoples of the Americas will bury the proposal", underlined President Chavez in Caracas during an event with Chinese businessmen that will be building a satellite for Venezuela.

    Chavez revealed that in the previous meetings of the Summit scheduled to begin Friday, United States is involved in a fierce diplomatic battle in a "desperate attempt to resuscitate FTAA" and include it in the final declaration.

    However he underlined that "Venezuela is a free country and will accept no pressures from imperialism."

    "We’re in the middle of a battle and we call upon the governments of Latinamerica and the Caribbean to face reality, and beware because the empire immediately begins to put pressure and blackmail governments and countries".

    The Venezuelan president said that no matter how the final draft of the Mar del Plata summit declaration works out, "there’s an ongoing, underlying deft battle but I’m certain that the peoples of the Americas will bury FTAA."

    Chavez insisted that if FTAA had been effective, Venezuela could not be making business with China such as the building of a satellite because "the intention is that the international trade agreement is above the Constitution and legal system of Venezuela."

    Laws and the Constitution would be worthless, he said, "we’d have to declare the Constitution null and void, only the empire’s (US) constitution would be valid."

    "In this sense FTAA is against China and any other European country which dares offer technology," highlighted Chavez.

    "I’ve spoken about this to the European people…I’ve told (Jacques) Chirac; Rodriguez Zapatero; Vladimir Putin, it’s against them also, because the FTAA purpose is to impede any free cooperation relation with China, with Asia, with Europe. It’s about imposing over our peoples a hegemonic empire for ever", underlined Chavez.

    Finally the Venezuelan president said the struggle against FTAA is not only to defend "what we have, which is not much, but to defend all we can have and achieve."

    President Bush is also scheduled to travel to Brazil for talks with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva before wrapping up his Latin American tour in Panama, where he is to meet with head of state Martin Torrijos.

    Chavez challenges Bush to a FTAA debate

    Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said in Caracas he is willing to debate, during the coming Americas Summit in Argentina, with US president George Bush on the merits of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA.

    "If Bush comes to the summit with his speech on FTAA he will receive a forceful reply from us and the invitation to debate", said Mr. Chavez.
    The Venezuelan president added he would politely request President Bush to outline the reasons behind his "neo-liberal" FTAA project and then he would display his own ideas.

    "We’ll see if the occasion crops up although at these events no one really goes with a debating spirit, but I will promote the debate and let’s see what happens".

    Mr. Chavez considers the FTAA Project "dead and buried" and defends his proposal for a Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which in Spanish has the initials ALBA, dawn.

    ALBA and FTAA are two opposing concepts, because FTAA from the north is a "neo-liberal" initiative, imperialist, excluding, while Venezuela’s ALBA is a multilateral initiative, sovereign and inclusive, argues the Venezuelan president.

    United States and Venezuela have been at loggerheads since Mr. Chavez began promoting "Socialism", criticizing "US imperialism and exploitation" and openly supporting the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro.

    President Chavez claims the Bush administration instigated the aborted coup of April 2002 when he was ousted and jailed for 48 hours before been liberated by loyal troops returning triumphantly to office.

    The latest dispute involves spares for the US made F16 fighter bombers of the Venezuelan Air Force which Washington is denying delivery.

    President Chavez accused US of breaking the spare parts supply contract and suggested that Washington would be less than pleased if military rivals gained access to the advanced planes which were sold to Venezuela in the eighties.

    Saying he was "only thinking out", "maybe we will just send them back to them, or perhaps we will send 10 planes to Cuba, or to China, so they can have a look at the technology of these aircraft."

    This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.

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