Friday, April 3, 2009
TEHRAN, Iran — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ridiculed the G-20 summit's attempts to deal with the global financial meltdown, saying capitalism is in crisis and "has to end."
Speaking to Venezuelan state television late Thursday, Chavez said the United States and Britain are "the most guilty" for the financial crisis sweeping the globe because of the financial model "they've been imposing for years."
"It's impossible that capitalism can regulate the monster that is the world financial system, it's impossible," Chavez said. "Capitalism needs to go down. It has to end. And we must take a transitional road to a new model that we call socialism."
The Venezuelan leader's comments came during a trip to Iran. In recent years, Chavez and Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — both well-known for their anti-U.S. rhetoric — have boosted economic and political ties.
During Thursday's summit in London, leaders from the Group of 20 industrial and developing countries promised $1.1 trillion for lending to poorer countries. They also vowed major efforts to clean up banks' tattered balance sheets, get credit flowing again, shut down global tax havens and tighten regulation over hedge funds and other financial high-flyers in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Chavez belittled the summit's efforts and said the International Monetary Fund must be eliminated.
Chavez's own economic program to institute socialism in Venezuela could slow as his country's oil-dependent economy suffers from falling crude prices. Inflation there has soared above 30 percent, eroding Venezuelans' salaries.
In his decade in power, Chavez has boosted state control over the economy and spent heavily on social programs meant to increase his popularity.
On Friday, Chavez and Iran's president inaugurated a joint commercial bank meant to speed trade and industrial projects between the two nations. Chavez said he will travel to Japan in the coming days to meet with the prime minister as well as business leaders and intellectuals.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All righ