President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that an Iraqi journalist was acting for his country's people when he tossed his shoes at President George W. Bush.

Chavez said he doesn't favor throwing shoes at anybody, but that the incident could be called "the shoe toss of a people's dignity."

"One must remember that Bush has not thrown shoes at the people of Iraq -- but bombs, death, destruction," he said.

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Earlier, Chavez had a more jovial response to the incident -- laughing and calling it "funny." Referring to the shoe-tosser, he said, "What courage!"

The leftist Venezuelan leader then hedged those remarks, however, adding: "At least it didn't hit him."

Chavez has often railed against Bush -- once famously calling him "the devil" in a speech at the United Nations.

But he said Monday night Bush "should be congratulated" because he still "has his reflexes."