However, the controversial leader prompted a near riot among the international media, especially those from Latin America, when he and his entourage arrived at the Hyatt Regency Hotel for last evening’s opening ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas.
Chavez, who gave an interview in Spanish, was the only leader to take questions from reporters camped outside the Hyatt.
Chavez did not arrive by the same route as the visiting 33 heads of state who disembarked from their jets at Piarco International Airport. Instead, he flew to Chaguaramas from Cumana, where he yesterday held a mini summit of Bolivarian leaders where he declared he would not vote for the Declaration of Commitment of Port-of-Spain in protest over the treatment of Cuba. Members of the Venezuelan Armed Forces accompanied Chavez who was escorted to Kapok Hotel, St Clair where he was escorted to a room to freshen up in time for the formal opening of the summit at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Newsday understands Chavez only made contact with the Government at about 2 pm, informing them he preferred not to land at the Piarco airport for security reasons.
Only a few police officers and soldiers knew about his arrival.