Sun, Sep 18, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Chavez says the US has plans to invade

DIPLOMATIC FIREWORKS Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that the US was a `terrorist state,' and he has proof the Bush administration intends to invade his country

AFP , NEW YORK

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Friday, at the end of a visit to the US for the UN General Assembly packed with diplomatic fireworks, that he has proof of a US plan to invade his country.

"I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela," the left-wing leader, an outspoken critic of the US administration, told ABC television in an interview.

Since arriving in New York on Thursday morning, Chavez has said the US is a "terrorist state" and called for the UN headquarters to be moved to another country.

The US has in turn taken Venezuela off its list of countries deemed to be cooperating in the campaign against the drugs trade.

Amid mounting rancor, the Venezuelan leader has in the past accused the US of having plans to assassinate him -- a move denied by the US administration.

But the US authorities were embarrassed recently after a conservative evangelist, Pat Robertson, called for the US to have Chavez killed.

Washington has said that Chavez, a close ally of Cuba's communist leader Fidel Castro, was a destabilizing influence in Latin America.

In the television interview, Chavez said that since US President George W. Bush came to power in January, 2001, "Venezuela has been subjected to permanent aggression against us and against me personally."

Chavez has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the US. But he said that for the moment, the supplies are safe. Venezuela is the fourth-biggest oil source for the US. "We have no plans to alter in any way the supply of oil to the United States," he said.

He highlighted how Venezuela was donating gasoline, through its state-owned Citgo stations, at a cut rate or free in American areas hurt by Hurricane Katrina.

Citgo has also put up hundreds of people on the grounds of a refinery outside New Orleans, he said.

"You hit me on one cheek, and I'll try to respond by helping you, I don't care. We're not doing this for the administration. We're doing it for the people of the United States. So that's how I respond," Chavez told ABC.

"Today or tomorrow, a Venezuelan ship with 300,000 barrels of gasoline should be arriving. It's the first of four or five additional ships that we have sent to help," he said.

"I have friends throughout the entire world, kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers," Chavez said. "The only country, the only administration with whom we don't have good relations on the face of the Earth is the administration of Mr. Bush."

The Venezuelan leader has made several attacks on the US at the UN world summit in New York this week, calling the US a "terrorist" state for its war in Iraq and for harboring Luis Posada Carriles, whom Venezuela wants to try for a 1976 downing of a Cuban airliner, killing everyone aboard.

"It is a terrorist state. It is a government that violates all rules and behaves shamelessly," he said on Thursday.

Chavez said that a 2002 coup, in which he was removed from power for two days, was the Bush administration's fault.

"This administration has truly broken with all protocols of democracy and respect for people. The coup d'etat against Venezuela was manufactured in Washington. My death was ordered. And it was ordered recently," he told ABC.

Venezuela was among countries that objected to the main document for the UN world summit.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez asked to speak just as world leaders were to endorse a plan for UN reform. He said not enough countries had been involved in the process. Cuba also joined the attack.

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