The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia ramped up their anti-US invective Wednesday, claiming Washington was using a relief operation in Haiti to mask a military takeover of the impoverished country.
Search and Rescue teams from France, Haiti, Turkey, Fairfax County, Va. and members of the U.S. Air Force on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 rescue Hottline Lozoma, a 25-year-old Haitian woman, who was trapped in rubble for eight days. (Photo: AFP)
"The empire," said Chavez using his favorite epithet for the United States, "is taking Haiti over the bodies and tears of its people."
"They started with the airport," he said, referring to Port-au-Prince's single runway airfield, which US forces have operated since last week, assisting hundreds of aid planes in landing.
"If you want to go inside the destroyed presidential palace, you'll find US Marines standing in your way," Chavez added.
On Tuesday, US military helicopters landed at Haiti's presidential palace, which was largely destroyed in the 7.0 quake that struck on January 12.
The United States on Wednesday said it would send 4,000 more troops to help quake-devastated Haiti, bringing the total number of US military either on the ground or on offshore ships to 15,000 in coming days.
"They brazenly occupied Haiti without consulting the UN or the OAS (Organization of American States)," said Chavez, who on Sunday made similar accusations about the US relief effort in Haiti.
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales, one of Chavez's closest allies in the region, said Wednesday he would request an emergency UN meeting "to repudiate and reject this military occupation of the United States in Haiti."
"It's not right the United States should use this natural disaster to invade and militarily occupy Haiti," he told a press conference.
"If you have all these problems with the injured and the dead from the earthquake, you have to go there to save lives, and you don't do that from a military standpoint," he added.