Venezuela's Chavez Takes Aim at Reid
Friday, January 19, 2007; 11:33 PM
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of President Bush, focused Friday on a new American target: newly named U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Chavez took issue with comments Reid made just hours earlier to the National Press Club in Washington, citing the Venezuelan leader as among the threats facing the United States in 2007 because "Chavez and (Cuba's Fidel) Castro want to put their leftist marks on young democracies."
Chavez, in Brazil attending a summit of 10 South American leaders, said the Nevada Democrat got it wrong.
Instead, Chavez declared he wants to "put the leftist stamp on the people, those who the imperialist gringos don't want or can't understand because of fear or ignorance."
"I think this leftist stamp in Latin America is going to spread throughout the world because the only the left can provide the transformation we need," Chavez said.
South America has seen a sharp drift to the left in recent years with the election of new leftist leaders.
Reid in December toured South America with five other U.S. senators but did not go to Venezuela.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the bipartisan group led by Reid was trying to counter Chavez's attempts to form an "anti-American bloc" in the region.