President Hugo Chavez called the United States the "big loser" at a meeting of Latin American leaders in the Dominican Republic, saying Venezuela's allies undermined alleged US efforts to divide the region. Chavez praised Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Saturday for joining him a day earlier in "standing up" to Washington at the Rio Group summit. "Yesterday, there was a big loser: the North American empire," Chavez said during a televised speech. Correa and Ortega "showed the North American empire and its pawns that Venezuela is not alone." US officials were not involved in or invited to Friday's summit in Santo Domingo, where Latin American leaders agreed to work for a peaceful end to a crisis sparked by Colombia's March 1 military raid inside Ecuador.