Chavez uses Spain summit to attack US
By Emma Ross-Thomas and Axel Bugge
SALAMANCA, Spain (Reuters) – Venezuela used an
Ibero-American forum to bash the United States on Friday,
increasing the anti-Washington flavor of the summit expected to
back stronger criticism of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the United States
of harboring terrorists as controversy swirled over a
Cuban-backed resolution on terrorism and a second resolution
calling for an end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba in tougher
language than used at past summits.
Cuban President Fidel Castro, a veteran foe of the United
States, stayed away from the summit but Chavez made up for his
absence by lambasting capitalism and U.S. policies.
“(The United States), which says it fights terrorism, which
invades countries like Iraq using the excuse of the war on
terror … protects terrorists on its own territory,” Chavez
said as he was mobbed by reporters and flag-waving supporters
at a Salamanca hotel.
Chavez was referring to a former CIA operative Venezuela
wants extradited over the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.
A U.S. judge has ruled that Luis Posada Carriles, who has
denied involvement in the bombing, may not be deported to Cuba
or Venezuela, saying he faced the threat of torture.
Cuba put a controversial resolution before the summit
supporting Posada’s extradition from the United States.
Foreign ministers approved a general resolution on
extraditing terrorists, but a Spanish government spokesman said
the precise reference, sought by Cuba, to the Cubana de
Aviacion bombing was left out.
The ministers also agreed on a resolution criticizing the
U.S. trade embargo of Communist Cuba in stronger language than
used before, calling it a blockade instead of an embargo.
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque has expressed
Cuba’s satisfaction over both resolutions, which must still be
approved by leaders before the summit ends on Saturday.
El Mundo, a newspaper generally critical of Prime Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s 19-month-old Socialist
government, said the resolutions marked another own goal in the
government’s relations with Washington.
Spanish-U.S. relations were chilled last year when
Zapatero, elected three days after the al Qaeda-linked Madrid
train bombings that killed 191 people, immediately pulled
Spanish troops out of Iraq when he took office.
Spanish news agency Europa Press quoted a U.S. embassy
source in Madrid as saying it would be “worrying” if two
resolutions proposed by Cuba were approved.
“It would be unfortunate if a text like this was
interpreted as support of the Cuban dictatorship,” the source
was quoted as saying.
AID FOR STAN VICTIMS
Spain on Friday announced a $65 million aid package for
Guatemala and El Salvador, where more than 1,000 people have
died in mudslides and floods linked to Hurricane Stan.
The presidents of those countries, kept at home by the
disaster, joined their counterparts by videolink to talk about
The leaders also discussed the impact of record high oil
prices on developing countries’ economies and President Vicente
Fox, of oil producer Mexico, told leaders he was considering
measures to ease Central America’s energy bill, summit
Secretary-General Enrique Iglesias said.
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft, Carlos Andrade