Caracas, November 7, 2005 – The 4th Summit of the Americas, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, finished on November 5 with Hugo Chavez claiming, “The great loser today was George W. Bush. The man went away wounded. You could see defeat on his face.”
President Bush left the summit early after failing to secure complete agreement among all the Latin American nations to support the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). At the summit, Hugo Chavez also said he was very concerned about the activities of the Colombian Security Services, known as DAS, regarding Venezuela and discussed this matter with the Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe.
Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay did not agree to the FTAA that President Bush wants to be put in to practice. If successful, the FTAA would further extend neo-liberal economic practices in the region. These generally include lowering tariffs, reducing labor and environmental regulation, and cutting public spending.
Although 29 other Latin American governments did agree to the deal the five who did not make up more than half the economic activity and population of the continent. This has meant a major failure for the FTAA. Speaking in Argentina after the summit, Chavez said he felt, “The taste of victory,” and that the FTAA is, “buried.” Chavez urged the other Latin American Presidents to join the fight against the FTAA.
After the summit ended, President Bush went to Brazil and made some indirect attacks on Chavez. Bush said Latin America could follow the US democratic model, that promotes individual freedom and global free trade, or could be like other unnamed countries in the continent that, “divide into factions and dwell on old grievances, which risks sliding back into tyranny." Chavez and Bush led the opposite sides at the summit but Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said, "their paths did not cross."
During the summit Chavez also met with Colombian President Alavro Uribe at the Hotel Armitage in Mar Del Plata, Argentina to discuss important security matters. Last Tuesday Chavez publicly said that the Venezuelan government has, "many pieces of evidence" that "conspiracies are hatched against us in Colombian intelligence bodies." Chavez did not accuse President Uribe of being involved, claiming that DAS, the Colombian secret police, is becoming increasingly independent of its own government’s control.
Chavez’s claims were made days after three top Colombian officials were fired or resigned. They were alleged to have links to right-wing paramilitary groups connected to human rights abuses in the battle against Colombia’s rebel groups. Colombian media sources described their meeting in Argentina as a friendly conversation and it was agreed that a more detailed meeting would be held on the topic of Colombian and Venezuelan security matters at a later point.