BANJUL, July 2: Europe and the United States should apologise to Africa for the cruelties of slavery, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday, calling on African states to resist modern day US colonialism.

Attending a summit of African leaders in Gambia, Chavez said both Africa and Latin America had been blighted by slavery and colonialism for centuries, to the benefit of Europe and North America.

“Africa is still weeping ... and Europe does not recognise it. Europe should apologise, get on its knees and apologise,” Chavez, invited to attend the summit as a guest, told reporters.

“They should lower their European arrogance and say sorry, as, one day, North America should apologise.”

The leftist firebrand, whose attacks on US policy have raised hackles in Washington, urged the leaders of the 53-nation African Union to forge closer ties with Latin America to combat US imperialism.

“The powerful nations will continue to dictate to us via multinational companies and neo-liberal economic policy, and if we cannot resist this neo-colonialism, we will be crushed,” said the former paratrooper, praising the African socialism of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.

Chavez reacted angrily to US opposition to Venezuela’s bid for one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council.

“The United States said again yesterday that Venezuela does not qualify for a seat.

With what authority does the imperialist government of the United States decide who should sit on the UN Security Council?

“If there was real democracy in the world, the US government would be placed under administration because it is a government of the United States that ignores the democracy of its people and ignores democracy in the world: it invades countries, murders and bombs cities,” he said.

Chavez said Venezuela, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, could rely on Africa’s support in its bid to win a Security Council seat.

His proposals for a joint bank to finance projects in developing countries, dubbed Banco del Sur (Bank of the South), and for a media company to combat the influence of ‘fascist global networks were warmly received by African delegates.

But Chavez denied he was using the African Union summit to make a bid for the leadership of the developing world.

“I am just a foot soldier in this process of integration. Peoples should lead, and we men should do what we can.”—Reuters

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