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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 March 2007, 04:56 GMT
Chavez launches biting US attack
Hugo Chavez holds up a stuffed squirrel given to him as a gift in Trinidad, Bolivia
Mr Chavez addressed crowds in his trademark red shirt
The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, on a tour of Latin America, has launched a stinging attack on the US.

Visiting Bolivia, the firebrand leftist leader said that capitalism was "the road to hell".

Mr Chavez underlined the billions of dollars of aid Venezuela is ploughing into Bolivia's economy at a time when the US is reducing its contributions.

US President George W Bush has avoided discussing his rival's regional trip during his own visit to Latin America.

Heaven and earth

"Those who want to go directly to hell, they can follow capitalism," Mr Chavez said in the town of Trinidad in Bolivia.

Map

"And those of us who want to build heaven here on earth, we will follow socialism," he added.

Recent floods in the town left thousands of homeless and their livestock drowned.

Venezuela's aid package of $15m (11.4m euros) outweighed the sum offered by the US tenfold.

The country also sent in aid workers who attended their president's speech on the airport runway.

During his visit, Mr Chavez also pledged more than $1bn (0.5bn; 0.76bn euros) for oil projects and community radio stations in the country.

Mr Bush spent Saturday in Uruguay where he spoke of the US care for the "human condition" and its "quiet, effective diplomacy".

Rural retreat

He defended capitalism, saying one way to lift people out of poverty was to encourage investment.

"I would call our diplomacy quiet and effective...aimed at helping people, elevating the human condition, aimed at expressing the great compassion of the American people," he said.

US President George W Bush (r) and President of Uruguay Tabare Vazquez
Mr Bush (right) said Americans cared about the human condition

The US president has pointedly refused to directly respond to Mr Chavez's comments as they make parallel tours of the region.

Mr Bush's presence in Latin American states has been met with protests and marches, some of which have turned violent.

About 20 people were arrested in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo on Friday after an estimated 6,000 people took to the streets.

On Saturday, Mr Bush avoided the crowds by meeting the president at his rural retreat some 125miles (200km) west of the capital.

Mr Bush is heading to Colombia on Sunday where he will meet the region's most loyal ally, President Alvaro Uribe, followed by Guatemala and Mexico.

There are about 22,000 members of the security forces posted around Bogota in preparation for Mr Bush's arrival in the Colombian capital.

Mr Chavez, meanwhile, travels on to Nicaragua.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Hugo Chavez addresses a crowd in Bolivia



SEE ALSO
Chavez attacks Bush 'domination'
10 Mar 07 |  Americas
Bush visit: US and Latin American views
08 Mar 07 |  Have Your Say
Bush announces Latin America aid
05 Mar 07 |  Americas

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