Archive for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

S. American leaders exchange harsh words

July 2, 2008

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— Peru's president said Tuesday that he's sick of Bolivian President Evo Morales criticizing Peru's trade pact with the United States, spreading false rumors about American military bases and urging Peruvians to protest in the street.

Things really got unneighborly when Morales called Garcia "fat."

President Alan Garcia said he is tempted to borrow the words Spain's king tossed at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year: "Why don't you shut up?"

"Stick to your own country and don't meddle in mine," Garcia said, referring to Morales.

Morales quickly fired back from Argentina, where he was attending a summit of the Mercosur trade bloc.

"Any president who tells someone to shut up is an antidemocratic president," Morales said. "The arrogance of kings is a vice that shouldn't be copied."

Peru's ambassador to Bolivia was called back to Lima two days ago to discuss relations after Morales said Saturday that the U.S. was "bringing its military bases" to Peru.

Bolivia also has opposed Peru's strengthening of intellectual property laws, a requirement of the U.S. trade deal.

Morales - a Chavez ally - allegedly encouraged Peruvians to join a national strike on July 9. And he said last month that Garcia, who has moved from left to center and gained a few pounds during his second term as president, looks "fat and not very anti-imperialist" lately.

Bolivia's vice foreign minister said Morales didn't mean to meddle with Peru's internal affairs, and that Bolivia takes Peru's concerns "very seriously."

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