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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 02:32 GMT
Venezuela inaugurates $1bn bridge
By Greg Morsbach
BBC News, Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (right) with Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Critics say the inauguration was delayed for the election campaign
The presidents of Venezuela and Brazil have inaugurated a $1.2bn (0.63bn) bridge over Venezuela's Orinoco River.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Brazil's Lula da Silva have recently lined up a series of big infrastructure projects which benefit Brazil's industry.

Venezuela now has a second bridge crossing the massive waterway that slices through the country.

The 3km (1.8-mile) bridge will make it quicker for Brazilian goods to reach Venezuela's Caribbean sea ports.

Political move

In the sweltering midday heat Mr Chavez and President Lula da Silva officially opened the bridge at Puerto Ordaz - one of the biggest built during Mr Chavez' seven years in office.

The bridge was completed in July and some Brazilian newspapers said the inauguration ceremony was deliberately delayed for four months to coincide with Mr Chavez's campaign to be re-elected.

Map of Venezuela showing Puerto Ordaz
Some Brazilian commentators argue that by visiting Venezuela now, Lula is lending his support to his friend's re-election bid.

However, Brazilian industry has benefited greatly from contracts with Venezuela.

Firms from Brazil were hired to build new underground train lines in Caracas, as well as a third bridge to be built over the Orinoco.

But Brazil's leader was careful not to sound too complimentary of his Venezuelan counterpart.

Lula warned Mr Chavez that the people of Venezuela would be a lot more demanding of him this time round, if he were elected for a third time in December.

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