Ex-leader's wifes says they 'won't be the clowns'

The wife of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez ridiculed an attempt to extradite her husband from the United States, suggesting that President Hugo Chavez is attempting to create a spectacle to distract from domestic problems.

Cecilia Matos said in a telephone interview from Miami on Friday that the 87-year-old former president will not return to Venezuela to be tried on charges stemming from violence during 1989 protests.

"We are not going to go into the circus Chavez wants. What he wants is a circus because he has such a bad reputation," Matos told the Associated Press. "We aren't going to be the clowns."

In a ruling Thursday, Venezuela's Supreme Court cleared the way for Chavez's government to request Perez's extradition.

Perez has lived in Florida for years and is wanted on charges of intentional homicide stemming from violence that erupted during 1989 protests over gasoline and transportation prices.

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