Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said he would have a nasty welcome waiting for US forces he insists are preparing to invade his country — arrows laced with Indian poison.
The left-wing former soldier, who has ordered his military to train civilian reserves for a guerrilla war, including the use of bows and arrows, often accuses Washington of planning to invade the country to control Venezuela’s vast oil reserves.
US officials dismiss his assassination and invasion charges as populist rhetoric meant to mobilise supporters before presidential elections in December.
But they say Chavez is an anti-democratic threat to the region. With an audience of ministers, army officers and local officials chuckling, Chavez remarked on how he would target US soldiers with arrows covered with curare, an Amazon Indian poison made from plants. “I am going to practice with a bow and arrow. If we have to put a few arrows into any invading gringo, then you’ll be done in 30 seconds, my dear gringo,” Chavez said on Sunday pointing to his neck during his regular Sunday television broadcast.
Chavez has become a fierce critic of President Bush, labelling him everything from a “terrorist” to a “donkey,” as the two governments clash over Chavez’s socialist revolution and his close ties to US foes Cuba and Iran. Venezuela troops have started training for an asymmetric conflict and Chavez has worried Washington by reaching out to Russia, Spain and Brazil to purchase military helicopters, boats, planes and new rifles.
Chavez’s opposition to US free-trade proposals have won him support among resurgent left-wing movements in South America, where a string of socialist presidents have come to office, most recently in Bolivia and Chile.
The Venezuelan leader on Sunday accused Washington of planning to undermine the credibility of upcoming elections in Venezuela and in Peru, where nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala is ahead of a conservative candidate in the polls.