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Chavez rejects claim that man is his son

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday denied he’s the father of a man claiming to be his illegitimate son.

It was the first time Chavez responded publicly to the claims of 31-year-old Salomon Fernandez, who says his mother became pregnant after an encounter with Chavez in the city of Maracay.

The president said he has investigated the matter and is sure he never knew Fernandez’s mother.

Fernandez and the president share a similar build and facial features. In a photo on his Web site, Fernandez – who until recently had planned to run for governor of Carabobo state – wears a bright red button-up shirt similar to those favored by Chavez.

Chavez promised he’s no deadbeat dad.

“If this boy were my son, I would have him here with me,” said the twice-divorced father of four. “I love my children.”