Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez began a four stop tour of his Latin American allies in Brazil Thursday when he met President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the capital Brasilia. Besides congratulating Chávez on his re-election, Lula also discussed economic agreements with the Venezuelan president that they say will strengthen regional integration.
Upon his arrival to Brasilia Chávez said the discussions would focus on energy integration, primarily the Gasoducto del Sur, the planned continental gas pipeline that will run south from Venezuela. “What we have decided is to start as soon as possible [the construction of the pipeline] in order to guarantee, I repeat, because it is very important, to guarantee the necessary energy for everyone this century and a good part of the next for all the peoples of Latin America”, he said.
Chávez also said he would like to discuss the idea of military co-operation across the continent, “Imagine the day when we could have military co-ordination between the Venezuela, Argentine, of all South America, we have a great space, in order to take care of the Orinoco, the Amazon, the Plata Basin and the southern Andes”, he said.
Asked about relations with the US government Chávez said they weren’t a priority for Venezuela but he said that, “The connection between Caracas, Brasilia, Buenos Aires and Montevideo -the axis of the south- is top priority and crucial”.
Chávez was received at Planalto Palace, Brazil’s government building, with military honours. There, the two governments also signed an accord to build four oil tankers for use in Venezuela.
President Chávez also visited Argentina yesterday where he was welcomed by Argentine President Néstor Kirchner. This morning he was in Uruguay for a brief stopover before he is expected to continue on to Bolivia.
Ortega Venezuela Visit
In another congratulatory visit the recently elected president of Nicaragua, Sandanista Daniel Ortega was in Caracas on Tuesday where he embraced newly re-elected President Chávez.
Chávez said to Ortega on his arrival at Maiquetía Airport [near Caracas], “It is an honour for us to receive you, one of Nicaragua’s liberators… They freed Nicaragua from the terrible tyranny of the Somozas,” Chavez said.
Ortega responded by saying that Chávez’s victory was a victory for “the Venezuelan people and the Latin American people. The most important thing is to fight for integration, fight for the spirit of solidarity”, he said.