Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home late Monday after
a five-nation tour of Latin American and Caribbean nations which
was greeted by cheers and jubilation along the way.
Chavez began his parallel tour of the region last Friday,
covering Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Haiti, seeking
to limit the influence of US President George W. Bush's visit to
Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.
In Argentina, he signed energy accords and took part in a
35,000-strong rally in the Ferrocarril soccer club to express
opposition to Bush's tour.
In Bolivia, Chavez and his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales flew
over Trinidad, capital of the northern province of Beni, an area
worst hit by heavy rains that have affected 350,000
Apart from the US$15 million in disaster aid Chavez had pledged
previously, he donated 40 trucks and two helicopters to the
During his visit, Chavez and Morales signed a series of
agreements on cooperation in economy and energy, under which
Venezuela and Bolivia have agreed to set up the Bank of the South
and the Organization of Gas Exporting and Producing Countries in
South America to ensure the economic independence of the
In Nicaragua, Chavez was received by hundreds of people who filled
the streets of the capital Managua, waving banners and cheering the
regional economic integration process he is leading.
Continuing his tour to Jamaica and Haiti, the Venezuelan president
also signed deals on energy cooperation with the two nations'
In contrast, Bush's Latin American tour left violent protests in
The US president's visit required extreme security measures,
including evacuation and restriction of movement in entire cities,
as well as military and police deployment to contain anti-Bush
International press pictures showed Bush alone on stages,
receiving sporadic greetings from a distance.
During Bush's visit to the five countries, riots left police and
protestors injured, buildings damaged and many were arrested.
In Colombia, 325 people were arrested, 24 others, including four
police officers, were injured, and more than 20 buildings were
damaged. Opposition leaders denounced police for using excessive
(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2007)