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Chavez goes on counter-tour to Bush trip

Venezuela's firebrand leader said Friday that President Bush's Latin American tour was nothing more than an attempt to improve America's image, dismissing pledges of U.S. aid as a cynical attempt to "confuse" the region.

President Hugo Chavez, who complained last week that Bush's tour was meant to divide Latin America and isolate his leftist government, launched a counter-tour of his own, arriving late Thursday in Buenos Aires. He said the U.S. leader only recently "has discovered poverty" in the region.

"I believe the chief objective of the Bush trip is to try to scrub clean the face of the (U.S.) empire in Latin America. But it's too late," Chavez said of recent Bush pledges of aid. "It seems he's just now discovered that poverty exists in the region."

In an interview with Argentine state television Channel 7, Chavez promised his scheduled soccer-stadium rally Friday night in Buenos Aires "will be confrontational. I believe you have to point out the contrasts. If he says 'Yes,' we say, 'No!'"

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