Venezuela's Chavez disowns violent supporters

February 8, 2009 04:15

President Hugo Chavez on Saturday disowned radical groups of violent supporters - just days before a referendum that could allow him to run for re-election indefinitely. As the February 15 vote approaches, Chavez has positioned himself as the alternative to widespread violence, while accusing opposition leaders and student groups of trying to throw the country into chaos and planning riots if he wins. "We are the guarantee of peace," he told backers in a poor neighborhood. But some of his supporters, including a group called "La Piedrita," have claimed responsibility for recent violent attacks - including tear gassing the offices of opposition-aligned media and the Vatican.

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