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Chavez Heats Up Anti-U.S. Rhetoric

August 10, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lashed out at one of his favorite targets, declaring that if U.S. forces were to invade the South American country they would be soundly defeated.

Chavez has repeatedly leveled such accusations despite strong American denials that it is considering military action against Venezuela, one of its key oil suppliers and a close ally of Cuba.

But Chavez again took aim late Monday, telling a students from across the globe that the U.S. should be aware of the consequences of such an action.

``If someday they get the crazy idea of coming to invade us, we’ll make them bite the dust defending the freedom of our land,″ Chavez said to applause.

He spoke during the opening ceremony of a world youth festival bringing together 15,000 students from dozens of countries, convening under the slogan ``Against Imperialism and War,″ officials said.

The World Festival of Students and Youth has been held intermittently for more than 50 years. Most host countries were aligned with the Soviet bloc during the Cold War, including Romania, Poland and the former East Germany.

More than 300 students from the United States shouted out their disapproval of President Bush, chanting ``Get out Bush!″

The Venezuelan leader said ``socialism is the only path,″ and told the students the collective goal is to ``save a world threatened by the voracity of U.S. imperialism.″

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