CARACAS Aug 19 Former Argentine soccer star
Diego Maradona on Sunday said he hates the United States "with
all my strength" during an appearance on Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez's weekly television show.
The leftist soccer legend, like the fiercely anti-U.S.
Chavez, is a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro.
"I believe in Chavez, I am Chavista ... . Everything Fidel
does, everything Chavez does for me is the best (that can be
done)," Maradona said, sitting with Chavez on the set of the
president's Sunday talk show.
"I hate everything that comes from the United States. I
hate it with all my strength," he added to thunderous applause
and cheering from the hundreds of Chavez supporters gathered in
an auditorium for the show.
Chavez, a self-described socialist revolutionary, is an
unrelenting critic of Washington and frequently describes the
United States as a decadent empire.
U.S. State Department officials call Chavez a threat to
regional democracy and accuse him of using the OPEC nation's
oil wealth to meddle in the affairs of neighboring nations.
Maradona, 46, received drug rehabilitation treatment in
Cuba following a hospital stay in 2000 linked to cocaine use.
In 2005 he launched a television talk show that lasted one
One of the most brilliant soccer players ever, he led
Argentina to its 1986 World Cup victory and is revered in his
own country and around the world.