London Guardian 
December 20, 2011
On the eve of his first official overseas trip since being diagnosed with cancer, Hugo Chávez has launched a blistering attack on Barack Obama, describing the US president as a “clown” and an “embarrassment”.
“Focus on governing your country, which you’ve turned into a disaster,” the Venezuelan president told state TV on Monday. Chávez touched down in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, on Tuesday for a summit of Mercosur, South America’s leading trade bloc.
Chávez’s comments followed a rare and strongly worded interview with Obama published by the Caracas-based El Universal newspaper. The American president criticised Venezuela’s business and political links with Iran and Cuba, and raised concerns at what he called threats to the country’s democracy.
“We are concerned about the government’s actions, which have restricted the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threatened basic democratic values and failed to contribute to the security in the region,” Obama said in the written interview.