Caracas, January 15, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez was the guest of honor, together with Bolivia’s President Evo Morales for the symbolic indigenous inauguration of Ecuador’s new President Rafael Correa on Saturday. Chavez stayed on for the official inauguration that took place today.
“The future of Ecuador is the same as for Venezuela. Our future is united. Bolívar signaled it when he said that some day in the future this immense region will be seated on the throne of justice, crowned in glory, showing the world freedom and equality”, Chavez said in his usual iconic style.
The two presidents have often spoke warmly of each other in the past and share a vision of South America free from the domination of US interests. In that manner Chávez also underlined what he sees as the most important project for South America.
“The most important thing the emerging governments have in front of them, those that fight for real change, is to go above all else towards South American political integration and union,” he said.
In that regard Chávez met with Correa to discuss the two South American trade agreements, the Community of Andean Nations (CAN) and Mercosur.
Venezuela was a signatory to both of these agreements until recently until Venezuela left CAN after two other member countries, Colombia and Peru, had signed bilateral free trade agreements with the US. Correa has reportedly been trying to convince Venezuela to rejoin the CAN, to which Chávez says he is open to.
The talks come ahead of a meeting of the council of Mercosur on January 18, where Chávez will attend with the other leaders of the group. In recent years they have talked of deepening and introducing more social aspect to what was originally conceived as a neo-liberal free trade agreement.
Correa is the latest in a string of left leaning candidates to get elected in Latin America in the past year. He has portrayed himself as a non-politician, not part of the traditional parties in a way not dissimilar to Chávez.
“ We want a profound transformation where the governing classes have failed”, he said at his inauguration. He said his first task as president would be to call a referendum on rewriting the constitution in order to, “destroy a perverse system that has destroyed our democracy, our economy and our society.”
And in the same vein as Chávez, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Nestor Kirchner, their Argentine counterpart, he has criticized sovereign debt and has said he wants to renegotiate oil deals.
Once asked to comment on Chávez’s characterization of US President George W. Bush as the devil he said the devil would be offended by the remark. However, on one occasion he felt it necessary to put distance between himself and Chávez saying that, “my friend does not rule in my house, I do.”
Other heads of state that attended the official inauguration ceremony today included Michelle Bachelet from Chile, Haiti’s Rene Preval, Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Cuba’s Vice President Carlos Lage, Uruguay’s Rodolfo Nin, and Spanish Prince Felipe de Borbon, and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is touring Latin America.