Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Now the show is against Blair

Thu Feb 9, 2006 8:28 AM IST

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told British Prime Minister Tony Blair to "go right to hell" on Wednesday after Blair said Venezuela should abide by the principles of democracy.

Chavez, a fiery leftist who recently compared U.S. President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, accused Blair of bowing to Washington's interests and being "shameless" and "immoral."

"Stay in your place, Mr. Blair, you are not one that has the morality to criticize anyone," Chavez said during a speech. "Venezuela is a free nation. Do you believe we're still in times of imperialism and colonialism?"

"Go right to hell, Mr. Blair," Chavez said, using local slang that is more vulgar.

Shifting his aim after a recent flare-up in tensions with the United States, Chavez called the British premier the principal ally of "Hitler Danger Bush Hitler", referring to his favorite nickname for Bush, "Mr. Danger."

During a parliamentary session on Wednesday, Blair called on Venezuela to respect the rules of the international community and said he would like to see Cuba, a close ally of Venezuela, function as a true democracy.

"I think the most important thing is that those countries in South America and North America realize they have much in common, much to gain from each other and ... in particular through the principles of democracy," Blair said.

Chavez characterized Blair's remarks as an effort by London to fall in line with Washington's increasingly harsh criticism of Venezuela, whose latest spat with the United States flared up last week when Chavez accused its main oil buyer of spying.

Chavez noted the statement came shortly after Bush called for increased funding for a U.S. radio station broadcasting pro-American messages in Latin America.

Britain's ambassador to Venezuela was in Miami on Wednesday and unavailable for comment. "There's nothing to add to what the prime minister has already said," an embassy spokesman said.

Since Chavez -- a former army officer and leader of a failed 1992 coup -- was elected in 1998, ties with the United States have steadily deteriorated, although Venezuela still supplies some 15 percent of U.S. oil imports.

Chavez says his "revolution for the poor" is an alternative to U.S. capitalist policies in Latin America. He has sought energy and trade deals within the region and annoyed the United States by allying himself with countries like Cuba and Iran.

Note to the international readers: The legality of the Presidency of Mr. Chavez is in serious doubt since the taken over of the electoral council by chavistas members for the referendum held on August, 2004.

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