THE Venezuelan President’s audience with the Pope yesterday was not the vote-winning photo opportunity that he might have hoped for.
Instead, Pope Benedict XVI, increasingly wary of foreign leaders using meetings at the Vatican for political purposes, gave Hugo Chávez, the aggressively populist left-wing leader, a stern lecture on the need to respect religious freedom in a nation where 96 per cent of the population is Roman Catholic.
Just this week Hugo managed to PO Lula (is this the beginning of a trend?), and now Hugo and Evo are heading to Vienna, where they are expected to charm the EU socialists, or maybe not. Evo, for instance, sounds testy,
“I am sure that it must be a novelty for you to see a President who comes from the battles of trade unionism, of social justice and the struggle for indigenous rights,” he told reporters yesterday, adding: “For more than 500 years, our resources have been pillaged. This has to end now.”
That certainly doesn’t make it sound as if Evo’s rolling out the welcome mat, particularly if you’re contemplating investing billions of dollars in their countries.
Listen to Toledo, guys.