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US Intelligence Chief: Venezuela Pushing Anti-US Agenda in Latin America

The U.S. director of national intelligence says the Venezuelan government continues to push an anti-U.S., radical leftist agenda among its Latin American neighbors.

In his annual report to the U.S. Congress Tuesday, intelligence director Mike McConnell said the gradual consolidation of democracy continued to be the dominant trend in Latin America over the last year.

But he said that leaders in Bolivia, Nicaragua and more tentatively, Ecuador, have engaged in sharply anti-U.S. rhetoric inspired and supported by Venezuela and Cuba.

McConnell also said Venezuela has increasingly become a major departure point for South American drugs such as cocaine bound for the U.S.

He said President Hugo Chavez's lack of cooperation with international anti-narcotics programs has undermined efforts by neighboring nations by providing traffickers alternative routes.

McConnnell also said recent actions by Cuba's Provisional President Raul Castro indicate he is looking to make modest reforms to Cuba's Communist economy.