UPDATE 1-Venezuela's Chavez denounces military action in Libya
* Chavez says U.S. and allies want Libyan oil
* Asserts U.N. has contravened its principles (Recasts, adds background)
By Daniel Wallis
CARACAS, March 19 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday that military action in Libya by the West's "men of war" is aimed at seizing the North African country's oil reserves.
Chavez spoke as a five-country coalition including the United States, France, Britain, Canada and Italy launched strikes on Libya designed to cripple Muammar Gaddafi's air defenses. [ID:nN19232327]
"They want to seize Libya's oil and they care nothing about the lives of the Libyan people," Chavez said on state TV, wearing a red hard-hat after touring a road building project in a poor neighborhood of Caracas.
"These are the men of war ... what irresponsibility. Behind this is the hand of the United States and its European allies, instead of taking the path that we have modestly proposed."
Venezuela's socialist leader is the most vocal critic of the United States in Latin America and an ally of Gaddafi.
Chavez announced a vague peace plan for Libya this month and said Gaddafi supported foreign mediation. [ID:nN03154291] Continued...