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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chavez Excoriates Washington and Calls Rice His 'Little Girl'

CARACAS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday called the U.S. secretary of state "my little girl" and told Washington to "go to hell" after it questioned his plan to seek special powers to legislate by decree.

Chavez, a Cuba ally re-elected by a landslide in December, this month launched a campaign to consolidate power by nationalizing key industries, seeking expanded executive powers and pushing for unlimited presidential re-election.

A U.S. State Department spokesman on Friday described Chavez's proposal to allow presidents to rule by decree as "a bit odd" in a democracy.

"That is a sacrosanct legal authority of Venezuela. Go to hell, gringos! Go home! Go home!" Chavez said in his weekly Sunday broadcast. "We're free here, and every day we'll be more free."

Chavez also took on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has described Chavez as a "negative force" in the region.

"Hi Condoleezza, how are you? You've forgotten about me, my little girl," said Chavez, who last year called U.S. President George W. Bush "the devil" during a UN speech.

Venezuela's legislature this week is expected to give final approval to a law that would grant Chavez 18 months to decree legislation.

The former soldier has said he would use the expanded powers to end the autonomy of the nation's central bank, create a national police force and boost state control over the nation's oil industry, which provides around 11 percent of U.S. oil imports.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey on Friday said the legislation by decree proposal was "a bit odd in terms of a democratic system."