Chavez Thanks Brazil’s President for Defending Venezuelan Government

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez publicly thanked his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva on his television program Aló Presidente yesterday for his statements in support of the Venezuelan government.

By Chris Carlson -
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Mérida, June 12, 2007 (— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez publicly thanked his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva on his television program Aló Presidente yesterday for his statements in support of the Venezuelan government. The Brazilian president defended the decision of the Chavez government to not renew the broadcast license for the private television channel RCTV last month, and insisted that the only way relations would improve between the United States and Venezuela is with a new U.S. president.

"I want to publicly thank Lula for his consciousness, to recognize and thank him for his declarations. He has said the truth," said Chavez yesterday. "Lula made some good statements, and I respond to them. Lula said that the United States has had a large participation in coups in Latin America."

The Venezuelan president assured that the media has been trying to create a conflict between the two leaders but that "they found it hard to turn him against me, or me against him, we are two great friends" working for the "union of South America."

"They wanted Lula to give an opinion against the decision to not renew a broadcast license of a television channel," said Chavez. "They didn't accomplish it. They accomplished the opposite when he said that he knows the United States has intervened in Venezuela and the reasons that Chavez says what he says against the United States."

Lula made the remarks last week in two separate interviews; one, an interview that was published this Friday in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, and the other, an interview on the English version of the Arabic channel Al-Jazeera. He justified the decision to not renew the broadcast license of RCTV saying that it was a "democratic act" but maintained that Chavez made a mistake with his strong response to the Brazilian parliament.

"The decision to not renew the license is just as democratic as giving it (the license). I don't know why there is any difference between two democratic acts," said Lula in the Folha interview. "The same government that gives a broadcast license can not give that license," he stated.

But Lula stated that the Brazilian Senate's statement against the RCTV decision was "soft" and that Chavez's harsh response could cause problems for Venezuela's entry into Mercosur.

Lula said that the Senate's communiqué to Chavez was simply "an appeal" and did not put ay pressure on him. "But how it was presented to him, I don't know," said Lula referring to the different media versions of the event.

"The agreement for the entrance of Venezuela into Mercosur is going to have to pass through the Senate, and I want to think that President Chavez knows that it is going to be much more difficult now," he warned

And in the Al-Jazeera interview Lula assured that he and Chavez have an excellent relationship, and referring to the conflict between Caracas and Washington, he guaranteed that relations between them could only improve after president George W. Bush leaves office.

"It is a fight that I can't understand very well," Lula explained, adding that one of the reasons for it is that "during many years, Venezuelan politics was subordinated to the United States, above all in that related to petroleum. Chavez rebels against that, certain that it was the North Americans who tried to overthrow him. I think that with another president the relations could be improved between the U.S. and Venezuela, two countries that for Brazil are friends that we want to live in peace."

And Lula assured that his relationship with Chavez is "hardly a relationship of heads of state, but rather of friendship, of partners. Chavez has an excellent relationship with me personally, and with Brazil," said Lula.

"Brazil has interests in Venezuela, and Chavez in Brazil, we have joint projects. We are building together, for example, a refinery. There is a lot of Brazilian investment in Venezuela, and I think that this cooperation between both countries is going to continue."

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