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Venezuela’s Chavez blasts U.S., allies on Honduras

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Venezuela’s Chavez blasts U.S., allies on Honduras

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday the United States wanted Honduras’ de facto government to consolidate power and win upcoming elections but that he would recognize only the government deposed in a coup last month.

Chavez, a socialist anti-U.S. firebrand, said the United States and its regional allies were stalling the return of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, his ally.

“What they are trying to do is freeze the battle until the election in November, when the coup (leaders) will wash their hands,” Chavez told the national assembly in the capital, Caracas.

“Any government that comes out of that coup, that comes out of elections even, we will never recognize it as the government of Honduras,” Chavez said.

The United States, the United Nations and Latin American presidents have roundly condemned Zelaya’s forced removal from power on June 28 and demand he be reinstated.

But Chavez said a mediation process by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias had been a trap and that the de facto government should not have been given recognition by inviting it to the negotiating table.

“What the government of the United States and its allies want is simply for the coup (leaders) to consolidate themselves and be recognized, if not by law, then de facto,” Chavez told legislators.

Zelaya, a timber magnate known for his trademark cowboy hat, had angered the traditionally conservative ruling elite and business interests in Honduras by allying himself with Chavez.

The interim government of Roberto Micheletti insists Zelaya was acting illegally by trying to extend term limits and his removal was in accordance with Honduran law. It accuses Chavez of instigating violence in Honduras.

Chavez applauded Zelaya for taking a symbolic step inside Honduran territory on Friday and ridiculed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for saying the move was reckless.

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