Hugo Chavez to U.S.: 'Go to hell, gringos'
The president was responding to U.S. concern about his growing power.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President Hugo Chavez told U.S. officials to "Go to hell, gringos!" on his weekly radio and TV show Sunday for what he called unacceptable meddling after Washington raised concerns about a measure to grant Venezuela's fiery leftist leader broad lawmaking powers.
The National Assembly, which is controlled by the president's political allies, is expected to give final approval this week to what it calls the "enabling law," which would give Chavez the authority to pass a series of laws by decree during an 18-month period.
On Friday, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Chavez's plans under the law "have caused us some concern."
Chavez rejected Casey's statement in his broadcast, saying: "Go to hell, gringos! Go home!"
Chavez, re-elected by a wide margin last month, has said he will enact sweeping reforms to remake Venezuela into a socialist state. Among his plans are nationalizing the main telecommunications company and the electricity and natural gas sectors.
Relations between Caracas and Washington have been tense since Chavez was briefly ousted in a 2002 coup in which he claimed the U.S. played a role. The Bush administration has repeatedly denied being involved, although it recognized an interim government established by coup leaders.
Since then, Chavez has consistently accused the U.S. of conspiring to oust him and often asserts the CIA is working to destabilize his government.
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