Watch CBSN Live

Venezuela's Chavez Calls Obama "Ignorant"

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday called President Obama "ignorant," saying he has a lot to learn about Latin America.

The socialist leader said he had been ready to name a new ambassador in Washington when Mr. Obama took office, but put that on hold after the new U.S. president accused him of "exporting terrorism" and being an obstacle to progress in the region.

"At least one could say, 'poor ignorant person,"' Chavez said on his weekly television and radio program, adding that Obama "should read a little bit so that he learns about ... the reality of Latin America."

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer declined to comment on Chavez's statements.

Chavez's relations with Washington grew increasingly strained under former President George W. Bush. The Venezuelan president expelled the U.S. ambassador and withdrew his envoy from Washington in September. Top diplomats have yet to be restored at either embassy.

Chavez and Obama plan to attend a summit of leaders from across the Americas next month in Trinidad and Tobago. There, Chavez said he will make a case for Cuba to be included in regional talks, saying "we can no longer continue to accept the impositions of the U.S. empire."

"We ask only for respect for Venezuela, nothing else," Chavez said.

Chavez said he showed some of the U.S. administration's critical remarks about him to U.S. Rep. William Delahunt when the Massachusetts Democrat visited Caracas last week.

"They keep pointing to me as the bad boy, as the one who attacks," Chavez said. "Who started the attack first? Obama."

Chavez recalled that shortly before Mr. Obama took office, the new president had accused Chavez of acting as a "destructive force" in the region.

"Obama said Chavez has been an obstacle to Latin America's development. What ignorance," Chavez said. "The real obstacle to the development of Latin America, Mr. Obama, has been the empire you now preside over."

The U.S. remains the top buyer of Venezuelan oil despite long-standing political tensions.

Chavez has at times expressed hope for a better relationship under Mr. Obama.

"They're very bad signals from the new government," Chavez said. "We'll keep waiting, but we aren't desperate."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue