Venezuela Hugo Chávez said yesterday that he favored the creation of a group of "Friends of Venezuela" to lead an international diplomatic effort to end the month-long general strike.
The Venezuelan leader made the announcement in Brazil where he attended the inauguration of Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Chavez said that he expected countries from Latin America, Europe and OPEC, which Venezuela helped found more than 40 years ago, would help his country end the strike. Chavez also proposed forming a "Latin American OPEC" between Venezuela and Brazil. Chavez said Lula expressed his "total support" and predicted that Brazil and Venezuela would make "great advances together in the coming years" because of the similar views.
To relieve economic pressure, Brazil last week sent an oil tanker with 520,000 barrels of gasoline to Venezuela.
As for the ongoing strike, Chavez said yesterday, "What is going on in my country is not a strike. It is a coup attempt disguised as a strike," organized by "terrorists who are blocking oil and food distribution and sabotaging refineries."
Meanwhile the leaders of the strike called today on the military to join their cause. So far, the military has backed Chavez.
- Greg Palast, an investigative reporter for BBC-TV’s "News Night." He is the author of many books including "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and also a regular contributor to the British newspapers The Guardian and The Observer.
- Samuel Moncada, Historian and Director of the School of History at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas.
- Maria Luisa Mendonca , Brazilian grassroots organizer and one of the coordinators of the World Social Forum.