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Venezuela's Chavez losing hope in U.S. President Obama

RIA Novosti

27/02/2009 19:44 MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez believes that high hopes should not be placed on the new U.S. administration or on President Barack Obama, national media said on Friday.

The comments came after the U.S. State Department published on Wednesday its annual human rights report in which it criticized Venezuela for its "arbitrary arrests and detentions; a corrupt, inefficient, and politicized judicial system characterized by trial delays...attacks on the independent media; widespread corruption at all levels of government; violence against women."

Venezuela dismissed the U.S. claims and the country's foreign ministry demanded that the U.S. stop the practice as it spoiled relations between other countries.

"High hopes should not be placed on the new U.S. government," Chavez said on national television. "It (U.S.) has remained an empire and the empire is oppressing the people, irresponsibly blaming us for infringements of human rights."

China, who came under fire, also condemned the report, saying that the U.S. was meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

Chavez has repeatedly said that he is ready for dialogue with Obama's administration if relations between the two countries are based on respect. Relations between the U.S. and Venezuela worsened in September 2008 when Caracas expelled the U.S. ambassador for allegedly organizing a conspiracy against the country.

During his appearance on national television, Chavez also talked about his meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro last week. Chavez said that he had met Castro twice on February 20 and 21 and that Castro was feeling "extremely well like never before."

The two leaders discussed international issues, including Latin America, the new U.S. administration, as well as strengthening Cuban-Venezuelan relations.

Chavez has traditionally had tense relations with Washington. However, the United States remains the biggest importer of Venezuelan oil, the country's most important export.

In September, the U.S. published its annual list of countries it considers to be the largest producers of narcotics and the biggest "traffickers." In addition to Venezuela, the other Latin American countries on the list were Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Ecuador.


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