Sun, May 11, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Chavez suing his ex-wife over child

AP , CARACAS

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s ex-wife said on Friday that the Venezuelan leader is suing her in a case involving their 10-year-old daughter.

Former first lady Marisabel Rodriguez said in a telephone interview that a court notified her on Wednesday of the suit and that she was consulting her lawyers. She declined to give details, saying it was “very delicate.”

Phone calls to the mobile phone of a top Chavez aide went unanswered on Friday. But the president has publicly accused Rodriguez in the past of preventing him from seeing their daughter, Rosines, a charge she denies.

Until last year, Rodriguez had largely kept out of the spotlight since she and Chavez divorced in 2004. But the former first lady resurfaced last year, urging Venezuelans to vote “no” in a December referendum on constitutional changes that would have let Chavez run for re-election indefinitely.

Chavez lost the vote and Rodriguez has become increasingly politically active and has been named as a possible opposition mayoral candidate in her hometown of Barquisimeto, where she lives with the girl.

Rodriguez expressed concern earlier on Friday that Chavez could use his influence to try to regain custody of the daughter.

“The president doesn’t have the ability to maintain the girl in an appropriate environment,” she told TV channel Radio Caracas Television Internacional.

During a speech on Friday, the president did not respond to his ex-wife’s remarks. But in December, he suggested his daughter was being kept away from him.

“They practically don’t let me see her. I’m going to have to turn to the law,” he said.

Rodriguez said in the television interview that Chavez had not made payments for their daughter’s health insurance and education and that he neglected calling and visiting the girl.

“Under the divorce agreement he is supposed to deposit a certain amount,” she said. “I have everything necessary to demonstrate that he has never made a deposit.”

Rodriguez, 43, was Chavez’s second wife. They married in 1997. The president remains single, while Rodriguez remarried last year.

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