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"Europe’s Last Dictator" Lukashenko On Latin American Tour, Visits Chavez, Castro

"Europe's Last " Lukashenko On Latin American Tour, Visits

, Castro

By Ryan Villarreal: Subscribe to Ryan's RSS feed

June 27, 2012 1:50 PM EDT

Venezuelan Hugo Chavez warmly embraced his Belarusian

counterpart Alexander Lukashenko as the two met in Caracas Tuesday to

sign a set of cooperative deals.

" is full of joy, decked out to welcome our brother president,"

Chavez said at the welcoming ceremony. "Over the years we have not only

built a true strategic alliance, but a sense of brotherhood."

In Chavez, Lukashenko has found a like-minded leader, as both are known

for their autocratic style of rule and their entrenchment as heads of

state. Chavez has held the presidency since 1999, while Lukashenko has

been in power since 1994.

At the meeting, Chavez made light of the fact that both leaders have

been characterized by Western powers as authoritarians.

"The United States and Europe call him (Lukashenko) 'Europe's last

dictator' … They also call me a 'dictator,'" which he dismissed as the

propaganda of "capitalism and imperialism."

The two countries signed some 20 agreements, ranging from joint oil

ventures and auto manufacturing deals to projects and

agricultural developments.

"We have come, not to enrich ourselves, but to transfer technology,

build homes and teach Venezuelan specialists," Lukashenko said.

Venezuela stands to gain from Belarusian technical expertise, while

Belarus views its partnership with Venezuela as the key to expanding its

ties with other Latin American countries.

"Hugo Chavez has done a lot so that we can begin a dialog with other

countries, such as Brazil, Argentina or ," Lukashenko said.

Lukashenko has also sought out other leftist governments in Latin

America, meeting with Cuban President in Havana before

arriving in Venezuela. He will also to Ecuador where he will meet

with President Rafael Correa, concluding his three-nation tour.

Belarus' diplomatic push into Latin America is particularly important

for the Eastern European nation which has been isolated by sanctions

over its record of political oppression. Relations with neighboring

Russia, once a strong ally, have deteriorated in recent years over

Lukashenko's failure to support Russian ambitions for a strategic

regional bloc.

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