Neoliberalism : Americas summit : Chavez victory


Richard Moore


No trade deal at Americas summit 

Leaders of 34 nations from across the Americas have failed
to find a compromise on a regional free trade zone at
their summit in Argentina.

Talks continued beyond the scheduled end of the gathering,
as supporters of a US-led proposal sought to set a date to
begin detailed negotiations.

The US faced opposition from five Latin American
countries, which said the plan could damage their

The final document contained an appendix with the two
rival statements.

With most leaders - including US President George W Bush -
already gone from the two-day talks, their representatives
signed an annexe to the summit's final declaration with
rival viewpoints on the initiative.

Twenty-nine countries said they wanted to resume talks on
a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in 2006.

Five others - Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay,
Paraguay - insisted on waiting for results of the next
World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong next month.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, said they were
"standing like a rock" against the idea of the free trade

"Today the big loser was Mr Bush," he said, calling the
five opponents of the plan "the five musketeers".

Riots by anti-Bush protesters marked the opening of the
summit in the resort town of Mar del Plata on Friday.

Mr Bush has now gone on to Brazil.

'Reduced bloc'

The leaders were hoping to produce a summit declaration
which could call for relaunching talks on the proposed
FTAA - an idea raised in 1994 at the first Americas summit
in Miami.

But the BBC's James Coomarasamy reports that it was an
awkward meeting for Mr Bush - who had to listen to his
host, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, publicly blame
American-backed economic policies for his country's ills.

However, Mr Bush stayed three hours longer than planned in
the hope of securing a deal.

The US National Security Adviser, Steven Hadley, spoke of
"real progress".

"We went from a summit which was supposed to bury FTAA to
a summit in which all 34 countries actually talk in terms
of enhanced  trade ... recognizing there are challenges,"
he said.

But our correspondent says it has been an inconclusive
summit marred by violence and for President Bush, it's
also been an uncomfortable one.

The US leader attempted to make light of the violent
protests and the tense atmosphere.

"It's not easy to host all these countries," he said.
"It's particularly not easy to host - perhaps - me."

On Friday, Venezuelan President Chavez addressed a
peaceful rally of up to 40,000 people at a football
stadium in the resort.

He arrived at the summit declaring "The FTAA is dead and
we are going to bury it here".

Police said 64 people were arrested in the violence in
which more than 1,000 rioters set businesses on fire. The
situation had calmed down by late on Friday evening.

Story from BBC NEWS: 

Published: 2005/11/06 04:11:42 GMT 



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