In a three-hour anti-American diatribe that described US President George Bush as an illegitimate leader and an "asshole", Chavez spelled out on Sunday what would happen if America turned up the diplomatic pressure.

"If Mr Bush is possessed with the madness of trying to blockade Venezuela, or worse for them, to invade Venezuela in response to the desperate song of his lackeys ... sadly not a drop of petroleum will come to them from Venezuela."
  
He also vowed never to quit office like his Haitian counterpart as troops battled with opposition protesters demanding a recall referendum against him.

Diplomatic niceties

Chavez has long accused Washington of backing the opposition, which has tried to oust him twice - once in a nationwide strike that ended last year and in an aborted 2002 coup. 
  

"If Mr Bush is possessed with the madness of trying to blockade Venezuela, or worse for them, to invade Venezuela ... sadly not a drop of petroleum will come to them from Venezuela"

Hugo Chavez,
Venezuelan president

The US is keenly interested in Venezuela, its fourth-largest oil supplier and the only Latin American member of the Organisation of Oil Producing Countries, but routinely denies all accusations of creating political instability.
  
The president spoke a day before Venezuela's election council is due to release its preliminary judgment on opposition petitions for a recall referendum on his government.
  
Counting signatures

The Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Carter Centre, which are observing the referendum process, said they would make a preliminary ruling on whether the opposition had collected the minimum 2.4 million valid signatures required.

The opposition says it handed over 3.4 million signatures.
   
But Chavez says his opponents' petition is riddled with forgeries while opposition leaders accuse some officials in the electoral council of trying to block the poll by disqualifying many valid signatures.