U.S. Official: 'Peruvian Voters Reject Chavez by Electing Former President Alan Garcia'

A senior U.S. official says that Peruvian voters rejected the expanding influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez by selecting moderate leftist Alan Garcia over the candidate Chavez supported in a presidential runoff.

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick continued a U.S. diplomatic offensive against the leftist Venezuelan leader at the Organization of American States general assembly in the Dominican capital, telling reporters that "Chavez overplayed his hand."

Peruvian officials, who accused Chavez of interference, said former President Garcia, whose 1985-1990 administration ended with Peru in economic ruin, defeated nationalist former army officer Ollanta Humala in Sunday's vote.

"The best response is that of the Peruvian people, which decided to vote for President Garcia and not for Chavez's candidate," said Zoellick, who was scheduled to leave the Dominican Republic later Monday.

Zoellick's comments came moments after Peru's delegation blasted Chavez on the assembly floor.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez denounced the accusations that his country was undemocratic in an evening speech, but did not say if his government had intervened in the elections.