Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez warned the United States yesterday that failure to agree on a new Canal Zone treaty with Panama will increase anti-American feeling in Latin America.
Perez, who is here on a state visit, said not a "single Latin American voice" is opposed to Panama's desire to gain full sovereignty over the Canal Zone.
Perez made his comments in a speech to the National Press Club after a meeting with President Carter and the U.S. officials negotiating a new Canal Zone treaty with Panama.
In a day full of meetings and talks, Perez lavishly praised Carter's policies, particularly the human rights initiatives that have angered many of Venezuela's neighbors.
The Venezuelan president leaves Washington this morning, although he will visit several other cities before leaving the country on Saturday.
Venezuelan sources said the meeting between Carter and Perez were so successful that at one point Carter turned to Perez and said, "We have agreed on everything so far, now we will have to find something to disagree about."
Perez reportedly made a point of telling Carter that Venezuela "has been and always will be a strategic and secure source of energy" for the United States. Answering questions later at the National Press Club, he stressed that Venezuela increased its production of oil to supply fuel to hard-hit regions of the United States during last winter's unusual cold weather.
Explaining Venezuela's energy policy and its role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is an important aspect of Perez's visit. At the press club, Perez defended OPEC activities as a way for under-developed countries to protect their economies against the pressures caused by the ever-increasing prices of manufactured goods.
"The price of oil will not continue to go up," he said, "if poverty and misery in the developing countries does not increase."
In a speech at the Organization of American States and in a meeting with the editorial board of the Washington Post, Perez used tough language to criticize countries that violate the human rights of their citizens.
Referring to Carter's policies, Perez told the Post editors, "It is comforting for the world to hear the voice of a great country speak up for ethical values."
In his OAS speech, Perez said, "In our Latin America, there is an upsurge of authoritarianism, suppression of freedom, violation of human rights, an increase in social and economic inequality, and attacks against democracy."
Perez said at the press club that The Post that neither he nor Carter believes one country should "set itself up as a judge of any other country." Rather he proposed that international organizations be given more authority to review charges of human rights violations.