Venezuela's Chavez hits back at US before summit
( 2004-01-11 10:08) (Agencies)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the United States on Saturday to stop "sticking its nose" in his country's affairs in a scathing rebuttal of U.S. criticism days before a regional summit.
In one of his most hard-hitting outbursts against U.S. President Bush's administration, the left-wing leader rejected recent statements by U.S. officials attacking his ties with communist Cuba and urging him to submit to a referendum.
"The United States has no business sticking its nose into Venezuela. Let it look after its own problems," Chavez said in a speech in Caracas.
He and Bush will be among more than 30 leaders from the hemisphere attending the two-day Summit of the Americas starting on Monday in Monterrey, Mexico.
Relations between populist Chavez and the United States, the biggest buyer of Venezuelan oil, have been strained by his criticism of the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Chavez has also repeatedly rebuffed Washington's criticism of his self-styled "revolution" in Venezuela, which some U.S. officials say is threatening democracy in the world's No. 5 oil exporter.
In his tirade against U.S. critics on Saturday, he singled out U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, calling her "a real illiterate."
Rice on Friday condemned Chavez's political alliance with Cuban President Fidel Castro and urged the Venezuelan leader not to block an opposition bid to hold a constitutional referendum this year on whether he should remain in office.
"What the devil do you have to do with a referendum in Venezuela?" Chavez said, responding to Rice.
"What happens here in Venezuela is the business of Venezuelans and nobody else on the planet," added the former paratrooper, who was elected in 1998.
U.S. DOMINANCE SEEN ENDING
Chavez hailed Castro, a veteran enemy of U.S. governments, and praised left-leaning presidents Nestor Kirchner of Argentina and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who have also differed sharply with Washington over foreign affairs and free trade.
Kirchner's government has rejected U.S. criticism that it is too soft on Castro's Cuba.
The Venezuelan leader said he did not understand why Bush's administration was "firing all its guns" against its regional neighbors just days before the Mexico summit.
"Could it be they want this meeting to fail?" he asked.
Chavez said U.S. dominance in Latin America was weakening.
"The U.S. government should accept that the time of cowardly governments on this continent ... subordinated to the dictates of Washington is coming to an end," he said.
He also dismissed accusations by U.S. officials that he and Castro had formed an alliance to export left-wing revolution in the region, and that they had promoted the popular revolt in Bolivia in October that ousted pro-U.S. President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.
"The real cause of the fall of these governments, like Sanchez de Lozada's ... is the poverty and misery brought on their people by imperialist, neoliberal economic models," said Chavez.
Like Castro, he is a fierce critic of U.S. free-market capitalism, although many Wall Street investors discount his revolutionary rhetoric because Venezuela enjoys healthy oil income and has a good record of foreign debt payments.
Chavez said he planned to make his opinions heard at the Mexico summit, even though he has no scheduled meeting with Bush.
"We'll all be seeing each other in Monterrey and we'll be saying what we have to say in Monterrey," he said.
|.contact us |.about us|
|Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved|