President Hugo Chavez on Friday blasted US criticism of his government for alleged human rights abuses, and said there was no reason for much hope from the Barack Obama administration.
"Well we can't hold out much hope with this new US government, which will continue to be an empire; and the empire tramples on people, now irresponsibly accusing us of violating human rights," Chavez said in an interview on state television.
In a report released on Thursday in Washington, the State Department said non-governmental organizations in Venezuela "noted an erosion of both democratic and human rights, with potentially severe consequences."
Chavez demanded the United States extradite Cuban-born Venezuelan Luis Posada Carriles, whom Chavez charged was "protected" in the United States after the "crimes he committed."
Posada Carriles was arrested in 2005 on US immigration charges, but was released in May 2007 after a federal judge in Texas dropped the indictment, saying the government tricked the ex-CIA contractor by using a citizenship interview to obtain evidence against him.
In an appeal of the decision, the US government insisted that "the record shows no deceit or trickery, nor outrageous conduct that justifies the extreme sanction of dismissal."
Posada Carriles was jailed in Venezuela in 1976 for allegedly masterminding the downing of a Cubana jet. He escaped in 1985.
He was sentenced to eight years in jail in Panama for a 2000 bomb plot to assassinate then Cuban president Fidel Castro, and was pardoned four years later.
Declassified US documents show that Posada Carriles worked for the CIA from 1965 to June 1976. He also reportedly helped the US government ferry supplies to the Contra rebels who waged a bloody campaign to oust the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s.