updated 10/11/2006 2:02:45 AM ET 2006-10-11T06:02:45

Venezuela’s president has a new public enemy: beer trucks.

President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday he is fed up with seeing beer trucks sell alcohol directly on the streets of poor neighborhoods.

“It’s the degeneration of society. It’s one of the causes of public drunkenness in the slums,” he said as he declared he was putting a ban on the beer runs.

“As of today, I want the National Guard to stop the beer trucks and take them to the nearest command post. No more trucks,” he said in a televised speech.

Chavez was speaking before participants in a state program aimed at helping alcoholics, the homeless and street children. The crowd had cheered him enthusiastically earlier in his speech, but his beer decree was met with a lukewarm response and scattered applause.

Chavez assured his audience he was not banning the consumption of alcohol.

The leader’s order apparently was aimed at trucks that sell beer directly on the streets of poor neighborhoods, rather than those delivering to liquor stores or other established businesses. Selling alcohol requires a license.

Although drinking alcohol in public areas is illegal in Venezuela, bottles of beer are often downed on street corners, and it’s a preferred thirst-quencher at public rallies — including during some of Chavez’s long-running speeches.

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