WASHINGTON - Otto Reich, who took a hard line against presidents Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, resigned as a top adviser to President Bush on Latin America, officials said on Wednesday.
White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said in a statement that she accepted the resignation of Reich "with regret" and praised his "service to our country and his commitment to a brighter future for the western hemisphere."
Reich said last month he planned to quit for "personal and financial reasons" and that he may join Bush's re-election campaign. Rice's statement did not say what Reich's plans were, but an aide said he planned to return to the private sector.
Reich, a veteran of the 1980s Iran-Contra controversy, was a favorite of the powerful Cuban-American lobby in Washington because of his tough anti-communist views.
But he sparked controversy elsewhere, including Venezuela, where he was accused of initially welcoming a short-lived ouster of leftist President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela's vice president responded by calling Reich a "clown."
Unable to secure Senate confirmation because of stiff opposition from Democrats, Reich was appointed by Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, the top Latin American diplomatic posting for the U.S. government.
He was later named special envoy to Latin America.
During the 1980s, Reich worked on the Reagan administration's controversial campaign against the leftist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
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