Venezuela’s Chavez strongly identifies with Gadhafi, sees cautionary tale in Libya’s conflict

Chavez at the time praised Gadhafi’s proposal to create a “NATO for the south,” a defense alliance that would include African and South American nations. Both men talked of standing up to world powers and “imperialism.” Accepting his award, Gadhafi told Chavez: “We are in the same trenches.”

Before the fighting in Libya, Chavez says he had warned Gadhafi about Libya’s billions of dollars in assets in the U.S. and Europe, which have since been frozen. Chavez accuses the U.S. and European countries of using Libya’s internal conflict as a pretext to seize control of its oil wealth as well as its freshwater supply in aquifers deep beneath the Sahara Desert.

It’s a perspective that fits with Chavez’s accusations, long denied by U.S. officials, that Washington is plotting against him to seize Venezuela’s oil. He said on television last week: “We’re on that list, only in the background.”

Throughout the conflict in Libya, Chavez has been demanding peace negotiations and praising the African Union’s calls for talks. Gadhafi at one point sent him a letter thanking him for his support.

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