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1st Summit of South American Presidents Marked by Differences Over Venezuela

The first summit of South American presidents, which was intended to strengthen regional integration efforts, revealed major differences between some of the leaders over Venezuela’s human rights situation. 

During the summit, which was held Tuesday in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, the presidents of Uruguay and Chile criticized Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s strong support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Lula on Monday met with Maduro, who was paying his first visit to Brazil since being banned by former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in 2019.

The Brazilian president said there was an “anti-democratic and authoritarian narrative” of Venezuela promoted by Western countries and criticized the economic sanctions that countries such as the US have imposed on Venezuela, which have exacerbated the country’s humanitarian crisis.

But some presidents who attended the summit disagreed with Lula’s public support for Maduro.

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said the “worst thing we can do” is pretend there are no significant human rights problems in Venezuela.

“If there are so many groups trying to mediate for full democracy in Venezuela, for human rights to be respected, for there to be no political prisoners, the worst thing we can do is to pretend nothing is happening,” he said.

Chile’s leftist President Gabriel Boric also criticized the human rights situation in the neighboring country.

“It is not a narrative construction, it is a reality. It is serious,” Boric told reporters. “I have had the opportunity to see it in the eyes and in the pain of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are in our homeland today and who also demand a firm and clear position that human rights must always and everywhere be respected.”

The summit was attended by the presidents of 11 countries in the region. The only president who did not attend was Dina Boluarte of Peru, who is not allowed to leave her country due to legal proceedings, but she sent a delegate on her behalf.

During his opening speech, Lula stressed the need for unity across the region and spoke about creating a common currency and forging a common energy market. ​​​​​​​

Source : aa