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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 12:00 GMT
Press downbeat on Americas summit
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends final day of summit
Some papers see President Chavez as the star of the show

The recent Summit of the Americas held at the resort of Mar del Plata in Argentina is seen in the regional press as little more than a clash between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his US counterpart George Bush.

Several editorials argue that the summit's failure to back Washington's free-trade proposals was a personal triumph for Mr Chavez.

But while some hail his opposition to the US as a fight between David and Goliath, others believe that the anti-US sentiment was not conducive to constructive dialogue.

Peru's El Comercio

At the Mar del Plata summit... apart from the meetings between George W Bush and his Andean counterparts about the Free Trade Agreement, the results have been meagre. So much so that these meetings should be replaced with something more functional, more practical, or the next one will have poor attendance.

Paraguay's ABC

As was expected, the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, attended by the heads of state and foreign ministers from 34 countries on the continent, served no other purpose than for the presidents to make pompous and vain statements and sign a document which is empty of any real content and does not even mention the urgency of tackling the main problem facing our countries - widespread government corruption.

Chile's La Tercera

The current outbreak of anti-US sentiment in the region - where, it is true, there are clear differences depending on the socio-economic position - has specific roots in the current situation (the White House's foreign policy and the USA's role as the only superpower)... But when the cry of "down with the USA!" is heard louder than the reasoned analysis of political reality - even when this can be very critical of that country - it does not make for intelligent, democratic debate.

Mexico's El Universal

The integration of the hemisphere cannot be achieved by meetings such as the one held yesterday, which, apart from lacking coherence and implying great expense for each country attending, was principally hampered by the presence of the US - always a source of debate - whose leadership in the region is rejected by a large number of nations. This is especially true regarding the issue of free trade, the benefits of which are far from bringing solid results to those countries who have embraced it as a panacea for all their economic ills.

Argentina's Clarin

Nothing that is happening could be considered unpredictable: the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has become the most charismatic figure at the summit, while his US colleague, George W Bush, the contemporary leader whom so many people love to repudiate, has become his antithesis. How could the dark-skinned David, who had no doubts about putting himself up against the intimidating and clear-skinned Goliath, not capture the popular imagination? It was expected.

Colombia's El Tiempo

The main player at the counter-summit was, of course, President Chavez, who has clearly demonstrated that he has the charisma, the boldness and the money - lots of money - to unleash his crusade. Apart from his populism... or his anachronistically strident anti-imperialism, summits like the one in Mar del Plata underline the growing international profile of the Venezuelan president, whose effective oil diplomacy has made him the most the influential political leader in the hemisphere.

Brazil's Folha de Sao Paulo

Chavez did not use his football stadium language in front of Bush because, rhetoric aside, the fact is that the US is the biggest consumer of Venezuelan products (on account of its oil). And, for that very reason, Chavez can attempt to bury the Free Trade Area of the Americas without a care: he doesn't need it to open up the North American market, which is already open for Venezuelan oil - and will remain so, with or without the Free Trade Area of the Americas... That's what summits are like: above all else, one big talking shop.

A columnist in Venezuela's El Universal

It was no simple coincidence that President Chavez and his million-dollar communications team began to turn up the heat early, preparing for a boxing ring in the south. A master of the reality show, Chavez did not wait to arrive on Argentine soil before laying into his favourite opponent.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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