From the May 2005 Idaho Observer:


Chavez will not return to U.S. until the nation is "liberated"

HAVANA, Cuba—On a recent trip to Cuba, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was warned by an unnamed state department official to not attempt visiting with president Bush because he will not be received. "I have not returned, nor do I think about returning again, until the people of the United States liberate that nation," said Chavez, saying that Americans are "oppressed" by their government and the U.S. media.

En route to returning home from a previous trip to Cuba, President Chavez stopped in to see President Bush whom, Chavez said, greeted him with a Coca Cola in his hand.

Chavez and Castro have become close personal friends and allies in what is fast becoming a united Latin American front against U.S.-led corporate exploitism in resource-laden, nations in the south.

Several trade accords have recently been consummated between Venezuela and Cuba, including an almost doubling (53,000—90,000 barrels) of daily oil shipments from Venezuela to Cuba.

The Bush administration is concerned about the growing political and economic ties between Venezuela and Cuba. Yet, its meddling in South American/Caribbean affairs is only widening the diplomatic gulf between north and south. With encouragement from Chavez and Castro, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is not being well received among potential partners in the southern hemisphere.

Chavez referred to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as an "imperial lady" because of her attempts to solidify the South American trade bloc as another U.S. "annexionist" strategy to continue plundering Latin America’s natural resources. The Bush administration will be forced to contend with Venezuela since it is the world’s fifth largest exporter of crude oil.