| Nota: A su regreso a Londres, el alcalde Livingstone tendrá que someterse a una investigación sobre el costo de su fracasado viaje a Venezuela. ¿Que dirían los londinenses de los costos de los viajes de Chávez?|
November 07, 2006
· Venezuelan president too busy to see London mayor
· Trip was planned to sign cheap oil deal for capital
Ken Livingstone was last night making an embarrassing return to London after flying 4,600 miles to see Hugo Chávez, only to be told that the Venezuelan president was too busy electioneering to meet him.
The mayor of London is now facing questions over the bill for the trip. The official reason for the cancellation, given by the mayor's office, was "time constraints of the Venezuelan presidential election campaign".
But questions persisted about the motives for the cancellation amid suggestions in Caracas that a visit from Mr Livingstone could be politically awkward for Mr Chávez as he campaigns for re-election.
The trip had been scheduled to sign the recently agreed "oil for brooms" deal, under which London officials will advise Caracas on running public services while Mr Chávez provides the British capital with Venezuelan oil.
But the deal has become a political minefield for Mr Chávez ahead of the presidential election on December 3, with his opponents accusing him of giving away cheap oil to rich countries while securing little in return for Venezuela's poor. Manuel Rosales, the leading opposition candidate, has reiterated that Venezuela should not subsidise London and cities in the United States when schools and hospitals at home languish.
The prospect of Mr Livingstone thanking Mr Chávez for his generosity in a high-profile visit to Caracas made some of the president's aides blanch, according to one source in the Venezuelan capital.
Mr Livingstone sought to shrug off the embarrassment last night, telling a BBC reporter that the Venezuelan elections always meant there was a question mark over his visit. "He's in the middle of a presidential campaign; it's not surprising, it was always a risk," he said. "He's got an incredible schedule and he's ahead in the polls but that has to take precedent." He said he would rearrange the trip.
Mr Livingstone's opponents in London were incensed. Angie Bray, leader of the London assembly Conservative group said: "This huge U-turn - virtually mid-Atlantic - still does not detract from the waste of time and money that has been expended on this trip."
Mr Livingstone travelled first to Cuba for the International Olympic Committee Sport for All Congress in Havana and there were questions yesterday about the possible impact of a speech the mayor gave there. Mr Livingstone had accused the US president, George Bush, of being elected in a "judicial coup d'état", attacked the "evil" war in Iraq and said he might join Mr Chávez on the election trail.