CARACAS Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.
"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.
Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world's problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up.
"Careful! Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts," Chavez said, sipping from a glass of water.
He added that the West's attacks on Libya were about water and oil reserves.
Earlier this month, the U.S. National Research Council recommended that NASA's top priority should be a robot to help determine whether Mars ever supported life and offer insight on its geological and climatic history.
It would also be the first step in an effort to get samples from Mars back to Earth.
A NASA team recently tested a space suit in a setting with extreme conditions akin to some of those found on Mars -- an Argentine base in Antarctica -- for possible use on a visit to the Red Planet.
(Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Daniel Wallis)