With Chávez in Check, Talks in Peru Stay Calm

Por Venezuela Real - 17 de Mayo, 2008, 18:52, Categoría: Imagen gobierno / Chávez

The New York Times
May 17, 2008

LIMA, Peru — To the relief of organizers of a summit meeting here of leaders from Latin America and Europe on Friday, the encounter was notable for being relatively free of insults being flung publicly.

No chancellor was accused of being a fascist. No president called another a lap dog of the United States. No king told a president to shut up. (Actually no kings were even in attendance.)
For achieving such an incident-free meeting, Peru’s hosts had primarily President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela to thank. Surprising many people here, he was on his best behavior, almost.

Mr. Chávez hugged a former enemy, President Alan García of Peru, whom he once called “a crook, a liar, a manipulator and an irresponsible man.” He sought to mend ties with Spain, speaking warmly with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain; relations soured last November when King Juan Carlos asked Mr. Chávez to shut up at a summit meeting in Chile.

Mr. Chávez even apologized to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. A few days ago he had accused her party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union, of sharing the ideas of Hitler.

“I apologize to you,” Mr. Chávez told Ms. Merkel, after cozying up to her and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina during a break, according to news reports. “I’m doing this in front of Cristina because every time I behave badly, she’s the one who pulls my ears.”

Mrs. Merkel smiled widely after her chat with Mr. Chávez, reflecting the relief here after he had said he would be traveling to Lima with his “usual furor.”

An alternative meeting held by leftist groups at the campus of the National Engineering University was more colorful than the meeting of the heads of state. It featured guitar sing-alongs, plates of coca leaves (for chewing) and a soccer match with President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who called a ban on high-altitude competitions a form of “apartheid” against Bolivian teams.

At the official gathering, the heads of state culminated their meeting by drafting a document pointing to the importance of economic growth, and of combating climate change and rising food prices. On the edge of these talks, Mr. Chávez remained cordial — until reporters asked him about President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, an ally of the United States with whom Venezuela has been feuding. “One of the great problems we have is the government of Colombia,” Mr. Chávez said, his smile melting away.

Mr. Uribe had his own harsh words for Mr. Chávez. “The only thing we ask is for no one to shelter terrorists,” he said, a reference to Colombia’s assertion that Venezuela had assisted the largest guerrilla group in Colombia.

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