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Chavez opts for summit alternative

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Chavez opts for summit alternative

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was the star turn at a rally in Vienna serving as an alternative event to the EU-Latin American summit in the city.

After greeting the crowd in German he went on to deliver a 90-minute speech returning to well-rehearsed anti-capitalist themes. Chavez’s decision to attend the rally instead of the summit’s closing dinner reflected divisions exposed at the trans-Atlantic conference. The Venezuelan president and his leftist Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, have been at odds with European leaders. Many of those at the Vienna conference tried to encourage the pair to soften their policies on foreign investment, energy and trade. Morales defended his plan to nationalise his country’s energy industry. Observers say the summit was a chance to take ties between the EU and several regions of Latin America to a new level, but only the launch of trade, investment and aid talks was agreed.