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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 06:46 GMT 07:46 UK
Chavez to expel foreign critics
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. File photo
Mr Chavez said public criticism by foreigners would not be tolerated
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has vowed to expel foreigners who publicly criticise him or his government.

"No foreigner can come here to attack us. Anyone who does must be removed from this country," he said during his weekly TV and radio programme.

Mr Chavez also ordered officials to monitor statements made by international figures in Venezuela.

His comments came shortly after a senior Mexican politician publicly criticised the Venezuelan government.

"How long are we going to allow a person - from any country in the world - to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?" Mr Chavez said during his "Hello, President" broadcast on Sunday.

"It cannot be allowed - it is a question of national dignity," he said.

He did not mention any names, but his comments came on the same weekend that Manuel Espino, president of Mexico's ruling National Action Party, criticised Mr Chavez at a pro-democracy conference in Caracas.

Mr Espino told the conference a plan by Mr Chavez to end term limits on Venezuela's presidency was a threat to democracy.

He accused Mr Chavez of trying to extend his rule indefinitely with the proposed constitutional reform, which would let Mr Chavez run for the presidency again in 2012.

Mr Chavez said the reform package would increase the influence of local community councils and student groups as part of his "21st-Century socialism" revolution.

He is due to present the proposal to Venezuela's National Assembly next month. The assembly consists solely of politicians who back the president.

Mr Chavez was re-elected to a third term last year with support from the millions of impoverished Venezuelans who back his social development policies.

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