The blunt riposte from Caracas is the culmination of weeks of arguments between the two countries which saw two diplomats expelled.

The US state department released its 2005 report on world human rights on Wednesday, pointing out that opponents of Chavez were harassed, restrictive laws on the media and use of the judicial system for political ends.

The Venezuelan vice president, Vicente Rangal said: "These reports are just toilet paper, exactly that, toilet paper, because the US state department officials have no authority to judge any country in the world. If any country or any government violates human rights and is a centre of corruption, it's the US government," he said.

 

Echo


However, the criticisms echo those made by domestic opponents of Chavez, an ally of Cuba who has promised to bring socialist revolution to the world's fifth largest oil exporter.

A former soldier, Chavez has promised to introduce sweeping social reforms.

While supporters praise the Venezuelan leader for financing health and education programs for the poor, his opponents denounce him as a fledgling dictator who has eroded democracy by controlling independent institutions such as the courts.

Washington has branded Chavez a threat to regional stability and frets over his close ties to countries such as Iran and Cuba.

Chavez rejects those charges as propaganda and accuses US officials of plotting to topple him.