CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez warned that the U.S. government, allegedly frustrated by failed assassination plots against him, was now planning to sabotage the oil-producing country's economy.
Chavez, speaking Thursday on his newly scheduled prime-time TV talk show, predicted that "one of the fiercest battle fronts" was coming ahead as Washington readied to destroy Venezuela economically.
He said that recent comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accusing Chavez of "destroying" his country's economy meant that "the imperialist plan of the moment" had turned to economic sabotage.
"(That's) one of the plans. The other is assassination," he said, reiterating past claims that the U.S. government is plotting to kill him. "We've neutralized various attempts, and I have faith we will continue neutralizing them. But they won't rest."
Chavez said that recent urgings by President Bush for his country to reduce its oil dependency on unfriendly nations, including Venezuela, meant that Venezuela was already on "the drawing table" and Washington was laying its plans.
Venezuela and the United States have had increasingly rocky political relations though they continue to be major trading partners in oil. The U.S. is the No. 1 market for crude from Venezuela, the world's eighth-largest oil exporter.