Roger L. Simon

Will the real Hugo Chavez please stand up?

The supreme leader of Venezuela seems to be playing his own one-man version of good cop, bad cop these days. On Nightline he is saying that the US is planning to invade his country using a secret plan called “Balboa.” Playing hardball of a sorts… “In the event of a U.S. invasion, Chavez said the United States can ‘just forget’ about receiving any more oil from his country.”

But meanwhile… in another AP story posted only three minutes ago… (The first was from 3:02PM. Who knows if the second reporter read the first?) Chavez Backpedals From Recent Remarks:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he would attempt to improve his relations with Washington, which have been rocky in recent months.

“Sometimes I make mistakes, I tend to respond to any official from the government of Mr. Bush who verbally attacks Venezuela,” Chavez said during a speech at a Manhattan church, his last public event in New York before heading to Cuba to meet with his close ally
Fidel Castro.

Chavez said the Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., who sat with him at the church, had advised him “not to be provoked” by representatives of the U.S. government.

He acknowledged that he has occasionally “gone too far with words” when responding to U.S. officials who criticize his government, and he said his criticism of the Bush administration has sometimes been misunderstood as attacks against the American public.

“I love the people of the United States,” he said.

And their money.