Venezuela criticizes 'extremist' US stances

AP News
Posted: Jul 26, 2011 9:30 PM
Venezuela criticizes 'extremist' US stances

Venezuela's foreign minister on Tuesday criticized U.S. conservatives for what he called "extremist" stances against President Hugo Chavez's government.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro condemned what he called actions by the "U.S. far right." He did not give details.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee last week backed an amendment to slash the $48.5 million that the U.S. provides for the Organization of American States. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, a Florida Republican who supported the measure, said it was targeted at an organization that he feels backs a U.S. foe in Venezuela.

"We strongly reject these steps that the far right is taking, and which in its steps drag along a good part of... the United States Congress and the United State government with an absurd, extremist policy against Latin America and against our homeland," Maduro said after a Cabinet meeting.

He accused the U.S. "far-right" of trying to "meddle in the affairs of our country and maintain a policy of permanent aggression."

Last month, a U.S. State Department report included Venezuela in a list of countries that it said are failing to combat human trafficking. U.S. officials also have said Venezuela is failing to take adequate steps to curb drug trafficking.

Venezuela's government has denied the accusations and said Washington is singling it out for political reasons.

Chavez has long been embroiled in tensions with the U.S. government. Maduro said last month that relations with the U.S. are frozen and that Venezuela sees no possibility of improving them.

Relations have grown particularly strained since the State Department in May imposed sanctions on the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA for shipping fuel to Iran.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010. Chavez rejected the U.S. nominee for ambassador, Larry Palmer, accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about his government. That led Washington to respond in December by revoking the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador.