Leaders at odds on jobs, pay hike

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We have a great opportunity to deal with job creation or poverty by putting a system in place that encourages economic growth and entrepreneurship,” Bush told Spanish language reporters Tuesday in Washington. But an ideological battle loomed between Bush and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and outspoken critic of what he calls an “imperialist” U.S. government. Chavez, a leftist whose government has used the country’s vast oil wealth to fund social programs for the poor, said Venezuela would object to any attempt by the U.S. to revive talks on a proposed hemisphere-wide free trade zone, the Free Trade Area of the Americas. “They are trying to include an article (in a summit declaration) to revive the FTAA. They aren’t going to revive it even if they produce a 100,000-page document,” Chavez told the Caracas-based TV channel Telesur in an interview Tuesday. Cuba, the only country in the hemisphere not invited to the summit, sent Parliament speaker Ricardo Alarcon and a large delegation to meet with protesters in Mar del Plata. MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina – Leaders from 32 American nations and thousands of protesters are demanding the same thing as they converge on this seaside resort: jobs and better wages. But they disagree on how to accomplish that goal, with President George W. Bush expected to push free trade and demonstrators angrily opposed. Few believe the two-day summit that begins Friday will solve chronic unemployment and poverty, and even those with jobs in the Atlantic resort of Mar del Plata, where the summit is being held, question whether Bush and Latin American leaders will end up crafting deals that help the poor. “I don’t know what free trade agreements can do for us, and I don’t even know what these presidents are going to talk about,” said 66-year-old fisherman Dante Vitelo, hauling nets brimming with sardines to shore from the south Atlantic. The fourth Summit of the Americas to be held since 1994 will focus on poverty reduction and economic development and Bush plans to announce several job-creation programs. While Alarcon has kept a low public profile in Argentina, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque was quick to criticize Bush on Wednesday in Havana, saying the U.S. president should “take note of the rejection of his regime by Latin America” and not attend the summit. “It must be hard to be the president of the most powerful country on earth: powerful, but not loved; feared, but not respected,” he said. U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on Wednesday lobbied for reinvigorating stalled negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, telling business leaders in Buenos Aires that the idea is the best way to create wealth and improve living standards for tens of millions of Latin Americans living in misery. But other countries do not want this weekend’s summit to be about the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Argentine negotiator Victor Hugo Varsky said negotiators are “advancing very slowly” as they decide what level of importance the issue should have in the summit’s final declaration. “Some countries don’t want any mention,” he said. “Others want to progress toward a trade accord.” Washington is not alone in support of talks on a hemisphere-wide free trade zone. Mexican President Vicente Fox wants the summit to nail down a date for the relaunching of negotiations on the issue, Mexican official Yanerit Morgan Sotomayor said in Mexico City. All 34 nations except for Panama and Honduras were to be represented by heads of state at the summit. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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