Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday offered refuge to the ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide while Jamaica insisted it would not recognize the new government in Haiti until it was ratified by the Caribbean Community.

"We don’t recognize the new government of Haiti. The president of Haiti is called Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was elected by his people," Chavez said.

"Venezuela's doors are open to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide," Chavez added. "He was kidnapped by troops of the country which preaches democracy to the world: the United States," he added.

Expected criticism

Diplomats said Chavez's welcome to the Aristide was not surprising because of his long-running feud with the US.

"It’s a snub to the United States- the good old 'my enemy's enemies are my friends' things," a Caracas-based diplomat said.

"He was kidnapped by troops of the country which preaches democracy to the world: the United States"

Huge Chavez,
President, Venezuela

A day after Aristide reached Jamaica on a visit, the Jamaican foreign ministry in a statement said it did not recognize the new government in Haiti.

"Jamaica has not recognized the interim government of Haiti as this will be subject of deliberations by the Caricom heads of government at their inter-sessional meeting in St Kitts later this month," the statement said.

Angry over Aristide's visit, Haiti's interim leader Gerard Latortue on Monday froze diplomatic relations with Jamaica.

US officials, however, brushed aside Chavez's criticism as nonsense.

"We are not concerned about Chavez's view on the Haitian presidency. Everyone else in the hemisphere recognizes the new government … Chavez does what he does for his own reasons," a State Department official said.

Since leaving Haiti on 29 January, Aristide has repeatedly charged US and France with kidnapping him and forcing him to leave the country.