Santos is one of two leading candidates ahead of a May 30 ballot to replace Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Washington’s main ally in a region where Chavez and other left-wing leaders say they are resisting US influence.
In a speech late on Friday, Chavez said any new leader in Colombia could help restore bilateral ties — except Santos.
“This should be understood clearly, clearly, by the people of Colombia. That man really is a mobster,” Chavez said.
“We can only re-establish economic and trade ties with a government that we can talk to … Santos is the number one ‘little Yankee’ in Colombia.”
Santos told the Reuters Latin America Investment Summit this week that Colombia must maintain a firm hand toward Chavez to resist what Santos charged was the leftist’s campaign to spread his revolution across the border.