San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arias Warming Up To Hugo Chávez

In a clear sign of warmed relations, President Oscar Arias has praised Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez for his generosity to the region.

“Venezuela’s aid to Latin American countries and the Caribbean is at least four or five times (that of) the United States,” he said in a press conference in Brussels earlier this month. “(Chávez) is very generous with a lot of people.”

He added that the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the leftist trade bloc founded in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela as an alternative to U.S. freetrade agreements, “is based on an important concept of generosity and solidarity.”

The comments contrast sharply with statements last year by Arias, an erstwhile Washington ally, in which he called Chávez a “dictator.”

Costa Rica is increasingly benefiting from Venezuelan aid. Hundreds of Ticos have received free eye surgery from Venezuelan doctors, and by December, Costa Rica is set to join PetroCaribe, a Venezuelan initiative that sells oil to Caribbean and Central American countries at highly preferential rates.

–Tico Times and EFE


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