Ex-guerrilla pledges to run against Chavez

Teodoro Petkoff, a 74-year-old ex-guerrilla fighter who says age has taught him the ways of the devil and he's ready to take on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the polls in presidential elections. Petkoff, who is running as an independent in the December 3 elections, pledged Friday a day after announcing his candidacy to reunite a country that he said has become deeply polarized during Chavez's seven years of government. Petkoff, the editor of the Tal Cual newspaper, said in his characteristically irreverent tone that Chavez's policies resembled a "bumper car" that had become the "great disintegrator of the region," criticizing the Venezuelan leader for abruptly withdrawing from the five-nation Andean Community trade bloc this week. Chavez, a fierce critic of US trade liberalization policies, called the group "fatally wounded" after other members Colombia and Peru finalized free-trade deals with Washington.