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US Free Trade Area Project Is Dead: Chavez

The FTAA "is dead and I didn't come here to talk of the dead...."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday that the US-proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is "dead" as it only helps large US companies at the expense of Latin American workers.

The FTAA "is dead and I didn't come here to talk of the dead," Chavez, an outspoken critic of US President George W. Bush, told reporters outside his hotel in the beach resort city in southern Argentina.

Chavez said that he will seek to boost his own trade initiative at the Summit of the Americas due to open on Friday afternoon.

Chavez has said that he plans to lead a "final burial" of the US proposal for the giant free trade area that would encompass allcountries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba.

President Bush, who arrived here on Thursday for the summit, has insisted that jobs can be created and poverty reduced through free trade.

Talks on establishing the FTAA have been bogged down because of disagreements between the United States and countries like Brazil,Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay