Chavez points finger 248.88.
(photo credit: )
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had some harsh words for Israel and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman after a diplomat suggested last month that Hizbullah had established cells in the South American country.
In a speech Thursday, Chavez called Lieberman a "mafia boss," referring to the police recommendation that the foreign minister be indicted for a string of alleged corruption offenses.
As Lieberman concluded a visit to Brazil last month - which was the first stop of his 10-day Latin American tour - Israel expressed concern over Hizbullah's growing strength in the region, particularly in Venezuela.
A top diplomat accompanying Lieberman on his trip told The Associated Press that Israel wanted to halt all Hizbullah activities in the region.
"Ever since [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad was first elected as president [in 2005], it seems Iran is making a big effort to penetrate Latin America," said Dorit Shavit, deputy director-general of Latin American and Caribbean affairs at the Foreign Ministry. "This is worrying for us."
There are Hizbullah cells in Venezuela's border area with Colombia, Shavit said. "It may be right now they're not active, but they might be active tomorrow."
Chavez heatedly denies the terror group is operating in Venezuela, something his government has already rejected.