HAVANA, Nov 11 (Reuters) Convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro openly criticized Latin America's socialist-leaning presidents for the first time today.
Castro also praised Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his other revolutionary regional allies in a commentary carried by official Cuban media on the Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile.
Nearly all 19 leaders who attended the summit were leftists, but there was debate over the region's future and the closing speeches yesterday were marked by sharp exchanges between Chavez and Spanish leaders.
''I listened with great sorrow to the speeches pronounced from traditional left positions at the Ibero-American summit,'' Castro wrote.
He was apparently referring to the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and others who advocate social democracy with capitalism.
''I felt proud of the pronouncements of various leaders, revolutionary and courageous,'' he said of the heads of state from Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, who believe government and economic structures must be radically altered and a new relationship developed with the United States.
''Chavez's criticism of Europe was devastating. The Europe that precisely tried to dictate lessons at this Ibero-American summit,'' Castro said.
Spain's King Juan Carlos told Chavez yesterday to ''shut up'' as the Venezuelan leader tried to interrupt a speech by Spain's socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Zapatero was criticizing Chavez for calling former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist.
The 81-year-old Cuban leader is recovering from a series of intestinal surgeries that forced him to temporarily hand over power to his brother Raul Castro in July 2006.
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