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Venezuelan Cardinal Calls Chavez 'Paranoid Dictator'


Venezuela's only cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church is reported to have described the country's president, Hugo Chavez, as a "paranoid dictator."

The comments appear in Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper. In an interview with El Tiempo, Cardinal Castillo said Mr. Chavez needs, quote, "an exorcism."

The cardinal, an outspoken critic of Mr. Chavez, said relations between the Catholic church and Venezuelan government are deteriorating.

A vast majority of Venezuelans are Catholic, and Cardinal Castillo says the church enjoys greater credibility than the government.

Cardinal Castillo accused Mr. Chavez of rounding up scores of political prisoners, and he says there is no real democracy in the country.

But, Mr. Chavez, who is up for re-election next year, maintains that he strongly supports a democratic system.

Local elections are scheduled in Venezuela next week, but the opposition claims the electoral process is rigged in favor of Mr. Chavez's supporters.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.