Capitalism killed life on Mars, Chávez tells 'water day' event


CAPITALISM MAY be responsible for the lack of civilisation on Mars, according to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.

“I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that on Mars there had been civilisation, but then probably capitalism arrived, imperialism arrived, and did for this planet,” he said at an event on Tuesday to mark World Water Day.

There was laughter in the audience before Mr Chávez turned to his main point: a warning that a similar process of environmental degradation was already under way on Earth.

“Look. Be careful. Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there had been great forests, now there is desert. Where there were great rivers, now there is desert on much of the planet. There is an advanced process of desertification which puts at risk life on the planet in the medium term.”

Mr Chávez frequently uses folksy analogies and humour to communicate with his audiences. During his 12 years in power, the populist leader has lashed capitalism and what he sees as US imperialism.

In his speech he said the military operation by western governments against Libya was motivated by the North African country’s oil and water reserves.

Mr Chávez is one of few world leaders to openly support Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy. The two forged a close relationship as allies within the Opec oil cartel.

Rebels in the Libyan city of Benghazi changed the name of the main sports stadium from Hugo Chávez Stadium to the Martyrs of February Stadium in honour of those killed in the uprising against Col Gadafy.

Also on Tuesday two Venezuelan students sewed up part of their mouths as part of a campaign demanding more funding for the country’s universities, which protesters say has not increased since 2006.

The two are part of a group undertaking a hunger strike outside the UN’s offices in the capital Caracas.

A pro-Chávez deputy has claimed the protesters are financed by three bankers being sought by local courts. Last week state television showed footage of what it said were hunger strikers secretly eating food.

Galloping inflation and shortages of basic foodstuffs has led to increasing domestic discontent with Mr Chávez in recent months.