Hugo Chavez Won't Condemn His 'Friend' Qaddafi

The Venezuelan President has said he would be a "coward" to abandon his longtime ally

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Muammar Qaddafi's been losing allies left and right as he has hunkered down and employed violence to suppress the revolts overturning Libya, but he may have one friend left: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke his silence on the continuing unrest in Libya and told a group of students in Caracas that he would not condemn his friend Qaddafi.  The AFP reports he asked the crowd, "Since everybody is going around saying Qaddafi is a murderer, is Chavez going to say it?" He continued, "Well, I do not know that to be the case. And from this distance, I am not going to condemn him. That would make me a coward, and he has been a friend for a long time."

The normally effusive Chavez had seemed curiously quiet on the man he once compared to the hero Simon Bolivar. Chavez also echoed friend Fidel Castro's recent sentiment by noting the United States' interest in Libyan oil. "The United States has said it is ready to invade Libya," he said. "And almost all the European countries have condemned Libya. What do they want? Libya's oil."

Chavez has been Qaddafi's main Latin American ally. Yet Chavez has also expressed the desire for a violent outcome to be averted: Venezuelan paper El Universal reports that he spoke last week about avoiding bloodshed in Libya. Chavez also "endorsed the idea of sending a commission to find a peaceful resolution to the uprising," the paper said. Chavez also proposed a "commission" to go to Libya to "talk with the government and the opposition leaders," in a televised speech, according to Al Jazeera. "We want a peaceful solution ...We support peace in the Arab world and in the whole world." Chavez also said it would be better to seek "a political solution instead of sending marines to Libya, and better to send a good will mission than for the killing to continue."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.