May 23, 2006

Chavez says Bush bad for world peace

By Hugh Bronstein

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez complained on Tuesday that the United States is making
peace in the world impossible, a comment he said was a response
to recent criticism from President George W. Bush.

"We are very worried because your imperialist and warlike
government is dangerously eroding the possibility of peace and
life in the world," said Chavez, a fiery critic of the Iraq

Bush said on Monday he was concerned about what he called
the erosion of democracy in Venezuela and fellow Andean country

The exchange was the latest salvo in a war of words between
Washington and Caracas. The United States charges that the
populist Chavez is trying to destabilize Latin America and the
Venezuelan leader accuses the White House of planning to topple
him to snatch the country's vast oil reserves.

"The United States is now a country against its own people
and against the people of the world. It is anti-democratic,"
Chavez told a rally of cheering supporters.

"They called the 20th Century the 'American Century'. Fine.
The 21st Century will be called the century that saw the end of
the North American empire," he declared.

Bolivian President Evo Morales nationalized the country's
energy industry on May 1, upsetting international investors. He
and Chavez are close allies and, with Cuban President Fidel
Castro, have formed an alliance that aims to stifle what they
say is U.S. hegemony in the region.

The United States announced this month it would no longer
sell arms to Venezuela, insisting the country had failed to
cooperate in global efforts to fight terrorism.

Chavez denies that and has accused the United States of
being behind a botched 2002 coup that briefly toppled his
government. U.S. officials dismiss his accusations.