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Sean Penn meets with Chavez, criticizes US right

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, left, talks to actor Sean Penn, of United States, who visited the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, left, talks to actor Sean Penn, of United States, who visited the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
February 16, 2012
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CARACAS, Venezuela—Actor Sean Penn criticized Republican presidential candidates during a visit to Venezuela on Thursday, saying that right-wing policies in the United States aim to benefit the wealthy.

Penn made the remarks after meeting with socialist President Hugo Chavez at Venezuela's presidential palace, when he was asked by a reporter about criticisms of Chavez by some Republican candidates.

Penn said he doesn't think "the use of those exploitive sort of demonizations will be very beneficial to this crew of candidates."

"That would be the least amongst their weaknesses," Penn said. "It's never predictable what can happen in an American election, but we certainly believe at this point that it's becoming increasingly clear to the American people that the policies of the far right are the policies of the rich, and that they are to the exclusion of the middle class and the poor, and that no society has a future on that basis."

The Oscar-winning actor has met with Chavez several times in Venezuela and has a friendly relationship with the leftist leader.

Penn attended a speech by Chavez earlier. The president joked that he thought the actor would be joining the left-leaning Bolivarian Alliance, or ALBA bloc, which includes some of Venezuela's closest allies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Penn "is a good friend, not only ours, of the cause of humanity, of peace in the world," Chavez said during the televised speech to graduating medical students.

Chavez lauded Penn's efforts to provide assistance to Haitians after the devastating 2010 earthquake hit that poor Caribbean country. The actor, who has been named a goodwill ambassador by Haiti's government, thanked Chavez for his support.

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