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Venezuela Rejects US Report on Human Rights

The Venezuelan government has rejected a new U.S. State Department report on human rights, saying Washington has no right to judge other countries' records.

The U.S. report criticized Venezuela for what it said was harassment of the opposition and the media, a politicized judicial system, widespread government corruption and other problems, including unlawful killings and arrests.

In a statement on its Web site Thursday, Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said the allegations are "false," "mal-intentioned" and "interventionist." The ministry countered with its own allegations, accusing the U.S. of having the "darkest record of violations of human dignity in contemporary history."

The statement said the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demands the U.S. end practices, such as issuing these annual reports, that according to Venezuela, erode relations between the two countries.

Mr. Chavez has long been an outspoken critic of the U.S. government, but has recently expressed hope that relations might improve under U.S. President Barack Obama. The Venezuelan leader says good relations will depend largely on whether the U.S. shows respect for his government.

The State Department report also slammed Venezuela's communist-led ally, Cuba, for allegedly increasing suppression of freedom of speech and harassment of dissidents, including the beating of activists. The report says Cuba had at least 205 political prisoners and detainees at the end of last year, although Cuba denies holding political prisoners.

The report also noted human rights abuses in other Latin American countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.