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Kerry Attacks Venezuela's Chavez

by KERRY SUCKS! Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2004 at 2:39 AM

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has attacked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a dubious democrat hostile to U.S. interests, delivering a slap in the face to the leftist leader who had portrayed Kerry as a potential friend.

Kerry Attacks Venezuela's Chavez

Mon Mar 22, 2004 06:33 PM ET

By Pascal Fletcher

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic

presidential candidate John Kerry has attacked

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a dubious democrat

hostile to U.S. interests, delivering a slap in the

face to the leftist leader who had portrayed Kerry as

a potential friend.

The Kerry statement on his Web site made front-page

news in Venezuela on Monday, nearly two weeks after

Chavez had publicly praised the Democrat contender,

hailing his health care plans and likening him to

assassinated U.S. President John Kennedy.

In his declaration dated March 19, the Massachusetts

senator accused Chavez of undermining Venezuela's

democracy, supporting Colombian rebels and

"narco-terrorists" and trying to torpedo a

constitutional bid by foes to hold a referendum on his

rule.

Condemning Chavez's policies as "detrimental to our

interests," Kerry said the United States should lead

international pressure to persuade him to allow a

recall vote.

Venezuelan officials did not immediately respond.

Political analysts said the harsh condemnation of the

populist Venezuelan leader aimed to tell him he should

not consider Kerry an ideological soul mate united

through their opposition to President Bush.

"This gives no reassurance to Chavez. I don't think

he's going to find a lot of sympathy from Kerry and

the statement makes that clear," said Michael Shifter

of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think

tank.

Relations between Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil

exporter, and its main petroleum client have been

strained by Bush administration criticism of Chavez's

self-styled "revolution," his friendship with Cuba's

Communist President Fidel Castro and his resistance to

the referendum challenge.

Chavez, a former paratrooper elected in 1998, has

repeatedly condemned Bush's trade and foreign policies

as "imperialist" and accused the U.S. government of

trying to topple him, a charge denied by Washington.

'MIXED SIGNALS'

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jesus Perez said in an

interview published on Monday his country's relations

with the United States could not be worse and would

improve if Bush lost the November election.

Perez told El Universal newspaper Bush was to blame

for the tense ties "because of his hostile

statements."

But Kerry's declaration firmly quashed Chavez's

apparent hopes of a more friendly U.S. policy if Kerry

won in November.

"It separates his image from that of Chavez, and it's

not just a distancing, it's a clear break," said

Venezuelan political analyst and author Alberto

Garrido.

Analysts said Kerry's criticism went well beyond a

U.S. campaign tactic to win votes in key states like

Florida, where anti-Castro and anti-Chavez sentiment

is strong among exiled Cubans and Venezuelans.

Kerry said Chavez's "close relationship with Fidel

Castro has raised serious questions about his

commitment to leading a truly democratic government."

But his statement also chided the Bush administration

for sending "mixed signals by supporting undemocratic

processes in our own hemisphere," saying it had

"acquiesced" to a brief 2002 coup against Chavez.

Washington denies it was involved in the coup.

"Kerry is saying there is a lot at stake in Venezuela

and that we need to be engaged and firm. He's trying

to show he's not a wimpy democrat, that he's a

tough-minded, hard-headed guy," Shifter said.



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comment alex Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2004 at 3:08 AM
im sure kerry knows all about undermining democracy brian Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2004 at 6:36 AM

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