Chávez attacks 'devil' Bush in UN speech
· Venezuelan accuses US of double standards on terror
· Bolivian president condemns war on drugs
Brandishing a copy of Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, cemented his reputation as Washington's chief irritant yesterday with a fiery performance at the United Nations.
In a 15-minute address to the annual gathering of international leaders in New York, President Chávez said he could still "smell sulphur" left behind by the "devil", George Bush, who had addressed the chamber 24 hours before.
His speech, which veered between a rousing appeal for a better world and a florid denunciation of the US, included the claim that President Bush thought he was in a western where people shot from the hip: "This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire."
Mr Chávez complained that his personal doctor and head of security had been prevented from disembarking at New York airport by the American authorities. And then he coined the phrase that will now forever be etched into UN history as one of the more colourful criticisms levelled at the US president from his own turf: "This is another abuse and another abuse of power on the part of the devil. It smells of sulphur here, but God is with us and I embrace you all."
He went on to accuse the US of double standards on terrorism. "The US has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere ... I accuse the American government of protecting terrorists and of having a completely cynical discourse."
Coming just 12 hours after Washington's other nemesis, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, had stood at the same spot and accused the US of hegemony and hypocrisy, Mr Chávez's colourful speech left US administration officials exasperated. John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN, said afterwards that it was a "comic strip approach to international affairs" and "insulting".
Mr Chávez could openly say what he wanted in Central Park, he added: "Too bad President Chávez doesn't extend the same freedom of speech and the press to the people of Venezuela. That's my comment on his speech."
Delegates and leaders from around the world streamed back into the chamber to hear Mr Chávez, and when he stepped down the vigorous applause lasted so long that it had to be curtailed by the chair.
A fellow South American leader, Evo Morales of Bolivia, also livened up proceedings at the assembly. President Morales held up a coca leaf from the platform to make a point about his opposition to the US-driven war on drugs in his country.
The small, pale green leaf - illegal in the US - joins a growing list of artefacts displayed from the general assembly lectern that includes Nikita Khrushchev's shoe and Yasser Arafat's trademark gun and an olive branch.
Mr Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, said: "We don't need blackmail and threats" and "There's another historical injustice - criminalising coca, the coca leaf."
The Bush administration has accused the Bolivian government of failing to curb the country's growing cocaine industry.