January 24, 2010 / 6:09 PM / 9 years ago

Venezuela to U.S.: Send Haiti vaccines, not troops

* Venezuela’s Chavez tells Obama to send vaccines to Haiti

* Chavez says U.S. using earthquake to occupy the country

CARACAS, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that American relief efforts in Haiti had fallen short and told U.S. President Barack Obama to "send vaccinations, kid," instead of armed soldiers.

The left-wing foe of Washington has accused the United States of using the earthquake in Haiti as a pretext for an "imperial occupation" of the devastated Caribbean nation.

"Obama, send vaccinations, kid, send vaccinations," Chavez said during his weekly broadcast. "Each soldier that you send there should carry a medical kit instead of hand grenades and machine guns."

A contingent of 13,000 U.S. troops is helping relief efforts after the Jan. 12, magnitude-7 quake killed up to 200,000 people and left up to 3 million people hurt or homeless and clamoring for medical assistance, food and water.

Chavez called into doubt the effectiveness of a U.S. hospital boat sent as part of the relief effort, saying American doctors had been unable to find patients and had to request referrals from Cuban and Venezuelan doctors.

"Why? Because they don’t push their way through the debris, they don’t go into the slums, where the bodies are," he said.

"It’s because they’re afraid. Our (doctors) aren’t afraid.

Venezuelan government television networks have focused their Haiti coverage nearly exclusively on the U.S. military presence there.

One broadcast on Saturday showed footage of soldiers, saying they were American troops surrounding the Venezuelan Embassy in Port-au-Prince. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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