Summit: Lula defends Venezuela from U.S.

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 29 (UPI) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva emphatically supported neighboring Venezuela Tuesday in light in recent criticism from U.S. officials.

"We do not accept defamatory remarks or insinuations about an ally," said Lula during a summit in Venezuela consisting of Lula, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, Colombia President Alvaro Uribe, and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.


"Venezuela has the right to remain a sovereign nation, to make its own decisions," Lula said.

High-ranking officials in the Bush administration have been critical of Chavez during recent months, saying the leftist leader was guilty of starting an arms war and using the nation's oil revenues to create an authoritarian state.

Last year Chavez negotiated with Russian arms dealers the sale of MiG attack planes, helicopters and 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles.

The world's 5th largest oil exporter, Venezuela uses much of its oil revenue to fund social spending, such as education and health benefits. However, Venezuelan opponents of Chavez and the White House claim the president is using it to create a regime modeled after Fidel Castro's dictatorship in Cuba.


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