Chavez Calls Bush 'Asshole' as Foes Fight Troops
Sunday, February 29, 2004; 8:38 PM
By Patrick Markey
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez called President Bush an "asshole" on Sunday for
meddling, and vowed never to quit office like his Haitian
counterpart as troops battled with opposition protesters
demanding a recall referendum against him.
Chavez, who often says the U.S. is backing opposition
efforts to topple his leftist government, accused Bush of
heeding advice from "imperialist" aides to support a brief 2002
coup against him.
"He was an asshole to believe them," Chavez roared at a
huge rally of supporters in Caracas.
The Venezuelan leader's comments came as fresh violence
broke out on the streets of the capital, where National Guard
troops clashed with opposition protesters pressing for a vote
to end his five-year rule.
Military helicopters roared in low runs overhead as
soldiers fired tear gas and plastic bullets to repel several
hundred opposition demonstrators who threw stones and set up
burning barricades in eastern Caracas late into the night.
Troops and opposition activists also skirmished in other
"We call on the country to continue with peaceful
resistance," opposition leader Enrique Mendoza said. "This
fight will last as long as necessary."
A soldier and a cameraman were shot and injured during the
clashes and an opposition protester was wounded in the head by
gunmen firing from motorbikes, witnesses and officials said.
Electoral authorities, citing the need to preserve peace in
the country, said they were postponing until Monday the
preliminary results of their verification of the opposition's
petition for a recall vote.
One demonstrator carried a banner reading: "Bye bye
Aristide, Chavez you're next," referring to Haiti's leader
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who fled into exile on Sunday in the
face of an armed rebellion.
TENSIONS AHEAD OF POLL RULING
But the firebrand populist vowed to defeat any attempt to
unseat him and threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United
States from the world's No. 5 crude oil exporter should
Washington try an invasion or trade sanctions.
"Venezuela is not Haiti and Chavez is not Aristide," he
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