CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied Wednesday he planned to wreck US President George W. Bush’s Latin American tour next week by visiting Bolivia and Argentina around the same time.
Chavez insisted that his trip had been planned since early this year but that it had not been unveiled earlier for security reasons, recalling his charge that there are plots to assassinate him.
The leftist leader said on his daily radio show, “Hello President,” that the US Central Intelligence Agency was spreading word that he had a plan to “sabotage” Bush’s Latin American tour. But he said the speculation was untrue.
“It is a coincidence that Mr. Bush arrives in Brasilia and almost at the same time I arrive in Buenos Aires; that Mr. Bush arrives in Montevideo and almost at the same time I am still in Buenos Aires; that Mr. Bush arrives in Colombia and I arrive in Bolivia,” Chavez said.
“We almost cross paths by plane,” he said.
Chavez added that an anti-Bush protest would take place during his trip in Venezuela.
On Saturday, Chavez said Bush’s trip was a diplomatic offensive “destined for the depths of defeat.”
The White House has said the trip will “underscore the commitment of the United States for the Western Hemisphere and will highlight our common agenda to advance freedom, prosperity and social justice.”
US-Venezuelan relations have nose-dived since Chavez was first elected in 1998. The South American leader, who was reelected in December, has moved closer to other US foes including Iran and Cuba.