Harry Belafonte calls Bush 'terrorist,' praises Chavez in Venezuela



CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - American singer and activist Harry Belafonte called U.S. President George W. Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world" Sunday and said millions of Americans support the socialist revolution of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Belafonte led a delegation of Americans including actor Danny Glover, Princeton University scholar Cornel West and farmworker advocate Dolores Huerta that met with the Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday. Some in the group attended Chavez's television and radio broadcast Sunday.

"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people. support your revolution," Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.

"We respect you, admire you, and we are expressing our full solidarity with the Venezuelan people and your revolution," he added.

The 78-year-old Belafonte, famous for his calypso-inspired music, including the Day-O song, was a close collaborator of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and is now a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. He also has been outspoken in criticizing the U.S. embargo of communist Cuba.

Attending the live Hello President program under a canopy at a farming co-operative southwest of Caracas, Belafonte said he had come to learn about Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution, which includes a wide range of social programs for the poor and is named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

He accused U.S. news media of falsely painting Chavez as a "dictator," when in fact, he said, there is democracy and citizens are "optimistic about their future."

The Americans toured a prison, spoke with people in the street and heard praise as well as criticism, Belafonte said. To be able to criticize, he said, "is the greatest truth of a democracy."

Huerta, a pioneer of the United Farm Workers labour union, called the visit a "very deep experience." Glover and West, who both expressed admiration for Chavez's ideals, ended their visit Saturday, officials said.
Chavez called Belafonte "my brother" and noted he championed civil rights for black Americans alongside King.

The president said he believes deeply in the struggle for justice by blacks, both in the United States and Venezuela.

"Although we may not believe it, there continues to be great discrimination here against black people," Chavez said, urging his government to redouble its efforts to prevent it.

Belafonte suggested setting up a youth exchange for Venezuelans and Americans to learn from each other. He finished by shouting in Spanish: "Viva la revolucion!"

He and Chavez embraced as Belafonte's song Matilda blared over the speakers.

Chavez accuses Bush of trying to overthrow him, pointing to intelligence documents released by the U.S. indicating that the CIA knew beforehand that dissident officers planned a short-lived 2002 coup. The U.S. denies involvement, but Chavez says Venezuela must be on guard.

"We have to defeat imperialism to save ourselves - and not only ourselves, to save the world," said Chavez, calling Bush "Mr. Danger."
Chavez said if the U.S. were to imprison Venezuela's ambassador for some reason, friends like Belafonte "would take care of freeing him with our support."

As usual, Chavez's show was eclectic, as he took calls, hugged children and laughed heartily over an astrologist's prediction that the divorced leader would find an "intense romance" this year.

© The Canadian Press, 2006
I got ten on Harry, Pat's been sittin on his duff in front of a camera too long and if things go south for Harry you know Maradona will jump in the ring and help him out.
I think Pat might win because he was the word of God. Aka, he's going to give Harry a good beating with the good book.

PS - Chavez can kiss my anti-communist loving rump.
It's a shame that Harry and Danny don't feel so strongly about their convictions that they would renounce their citizenships, and move on down to the paradise that they seem to think Venezuela is.