Jan. 14 - Venezuelan president delivers a marathon State of the Union address in Caracas and says the country's Miami consulate will be shut down. Sunita Rappai reports.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez en route to deliver his annual State of the Union address. Warmly greeted by supporters, Chavez, who is recovering from recent cancer treatment, used the opportunity to take several swipes at long-term foe, the U.S. - including announcing the closure of Venezuela's Miami consulate. This comes days after one of Venezuela's diplomats was expelled from the U.S. after allegedly plotting against the state. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CHAVEZ, SAYING: "The foreign minister, Nicolás (Maduro), has recommended to me to close the consulate. Well, ok, we will close it." But Chavez said Venezuela would not be expelling the U.S. consul in Venezuela as there was 'no reason to do so'. The typically outspoken Chavez also made a dig at some U.S. responses to the recent murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist - and blamed James Bond-style agents for the death. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CHAVEZ, SAYING: "So this means it is like that secret agent of Her British Majesty's Service, the secret agent of those James Bond films, where he has a licence to kill, wherever he wants to, whoever he wants to, however he wants to. James Bond: that is the world that we want. That is a world of madness." The unashamedly populist president also used the opportunity to defy those who say he will not concede defeat if beaten in forthcoming elections. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CHAVEZ, SAYING: "And you know what! Ladies and gentleman of the opposition, if any of you wins the elections, I will be the first to recognize it. I ask the same from you here." Venezuela will go to the polls for presidential elections on October 7. Sunita Rappai, Reuters