Friday, September 22, 2006
"You don't come into my country; you don't come into my congressional district and you don't condemn my president," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, scolded Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, was blunt in her criticism of the Venezuelan leader. "He is an everyday thug," she said. (Watch Rangel rip Chavez -- 1:28 )
Chavez kept up his criticism of Bush during a visit to Harlem on Thursday, calling the U.S. president "a sick man" who is unqualified for the job. Chavez also said he is expanding his heating-oil program to help low-income Americans.
During his speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Chavez launched into a caustic verbal attack of Bush that shocked diplomats and observers accustomed to the staid verbiage of international diplomacy. (Full story)
"The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said, referring to Bush, who addressed the world body during its annual meeting Tuesday. "And it smells of sulfur still today."
Chavez accused Bush of having spoken "as if he owned the world" when the U.S. president addressed the world body on Tuesday. (Watch Chavez headline a devil of a week at the U.N. -- 2:11)
"As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.' "
Bush's domestic foes fumed Thursday.
"If there's any criticism of President Bush, it should be restricted to Americans, whether they voted for him or not," Rangel said at a Washington news conference.
"I just want to make it abundantly clear to Hugo Chavez or any other president: Don't come to the United States and think, because we have problems with our president, that any foreigner can come to our country and not think that Americans do not feel offended when you offend our chief of state," Rangel said.
"Hugo Chavez abused the privilege that he had speaking at the United Nations," Pelosi said. "In doing so, in the manner which he characterized the president, he demeaned himself and demeaned Venezuela."
Bush administration officials dismissed the Chavez tirade.
"We're not going to address that sort of comic-strip approach to international affairs," John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said shortly after Chavez spoke Wednesday. Chavez's tirades against Bush have become common. In May, he accused Bush of committing genocide and said the U.S. president should be imprisoned by an international criminal court.
Chavez also alleged during the U.N. speech that the United States is planning, financing and setting in motion a coup to overthrow him. The U.S. has denied such accusations in the past.
As he was exiting the U.N. building in New York, Chavez told reporters that Bush is not a legitimate president because he "stole the elections."
"He is, therefore, a dictator," Chavez said.(Watch Chavez's bellicose comments -- :57)
During a stop in Harlem on Thursday, Chavez said he has no quarrel with the American people.
"We are friends of yours, and you are our friends," he said.
Underscoring his point, he announced he is expanding his heating-oil program to help impoverished Americans from 40 million gallons last year to 100 million gallons this year, and from 180,000 families to 459,000 families.
But in the heart of Rangel's congressional district, he blasted away at Bush for a second day.
"He walks like this cowboy John Wayne," said Chavez. "He doesn't have the slightest idea of politics. He got where he is because he is the son of his father. He was an alcoholic, an ex-alcoholic. He's a sick man, full of complexes, but very dangerous now because he has a lot of power."
Chavez, clad in a fire-engine-red shirt, called Bush a "menace" and a "threat against life on the planet."
In the United States, rich people are getting richer, and poor people are getting poorer, he said. "That's not a democracy; that's a tyranny."
After his address, a Chavez spokesman said the Secret Service and New York Police Department had barred the Venezuelan president from granting media interviews and cut his delegation's satellite feed -- claims the New York police and State Department denied.
NYPD Assistant Chief Michael Collins called the allegations "absolutely false" and said the Venezuelan delegation refused to comply with requirements on where to place their satellite dish.
"What they were doing was dangerous and illegal," he said. "We made every accommodation not to interfere with what was going on."
State Department spokesman Gonzo Gallegos, in New York with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said: "As a matter of policy, there are no restrictions on President Chavez or anyone else wanting to speak their mind in the United States."