Venezuela spends $120 million on summit meeting, but few foreign leaders attend

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, seen here addressing the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, authorized spending millions preparing for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Saturday and Sunday. Very few heads of state attended. Photo: The United Nations

MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela, Sept. 18 (UPI) — Fewer than a dozen world leaders attended a meeting of a large Cold War-era bloc in Venezuela this weekend after the struggling nation spent more than $120 million to wine and dine international heads of state.

Venezuela spent millions preparing for the Non-Aligned Movement Saturday and Sunday despite widespread shortages of food and triple-digit inflation.

In 2012, 35 world leaders attended the last summit of the Cold War-era group in Iran. The Venezuelan government did not release a list of attendees.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro touted the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which has 120 members and formed a half-century go with those not wanting to align with the United States or Soviet Union.

Attendees include Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas along with Venezuela’s regional allies Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t attend, only the second time in 55 years that the country’s head of state was missing.

Venezuela opposition leader Henrique Capriles noted Maduro’s increasing isolation from the rest of the world.

“Millions of dollars of Venezuelans’ money spent for the government’s ego,” he said. “Many of the countries didn’t come to the show!”

Topics Saturday included the plight of the Palestinians, Cuba’s new ties with the United States and Maduro’s political problems, Al Jazeera reported.

An Al Jazeera reporter also noted delegates complained about a lack of organization, delays and shabby hotels.

That is even though the socialist nation cleaned up the island, repainting roads, stocking supermarket shelves and boosting security.


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