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Palast: Finally, a very last question. You said that you were a simple man - a peasant, a soldier. Do you think this is one of the reasons why the rich hate you here? I've met many rich people and most of them, they don't just dislike you, they hate you! Do you think it's because of your background, or the colour of your skin?

Chávez: Well, I have many friends who are rich, so not all of them hate me, fortunately!

What I believe is that a sector of the Venezuelan high class is the victim of a psychological campaign - systematic, cold, calculating, Goebellian - so they have seen with their own eyes through Venezuelan television so many lies, they have heard with their own ears so many lies told, that I'm sure they have in their heads a phantom, a ghost, which they believe is Chávez, but it's not me. I love the people. I don't care if you're the richest man on earth, you are a son of God, and I love them all. I wish them the best, to their children, to their wives, I wish happiness.

What happens though is that I'm obliged to fight for the weakest. To struggle, from my soul, for the poor and the most needy. That's why I'm here. I have faith that as time passes and these people who are poisoned against me and have this ghost Chávez who is not me, at some point they are going to recognise the truth. I have faith that this will occur.

After everything that has occured recently, I received emails and phone calls from people that used to hate me but now have realised that they'd been tricked and manipulated. Recently a woman wrote a letter to me that was published in a newspaper, a woman that went on the opposition march that day of the bloodshed. And she told me she had been tricked, along with so many others, and had been led like a lamb to its slaughter. She realised the truth, and there's deep reflection in those sectors of the middle classes in Venezuela. I am sure that is one of the biggest lessons we are collectively going to learn after this horror that we've all lived through.