A Welsh Trotskyist accused of being the “evil genius” behind the president of Venezuela has challenged his critics to a public debate.
Swansea-born Alan Woods is a familiar figure in Caracas where he frequently visits the radical left-wing leader’s presidential palace.
The country’s main political opposition claim to have unmasked him as a key ideological adviser to President Hugo Chavez.
Ramon Muchacho, leader of Primero Justicia, the country’s main opposition party, recently went so far as to hold a press conference to highlight Mr Woods’ influence.
The Spanish speaking Briton, based in London, describes himself as an outside observer who is an outspoken supporter of the president.
He recently wrote on a Marxist website urging the president to accelerate the “revolutionary process”.
Chavez himself is such a fan of Woods’ work that he publicly endorsed his book Reformism or Revolution on TV.
The weighty Marxist tome was written after Woods did a speaking tour of Venezuela several years ago.
The blurb for the book describes it as pointing “the way forward for the Venezuelan and world revolution”.
But despite acknowledging his closeness to the president, Woods is dismissive of the ideological influence he is accused of wielding.