Venezuela insists with US plot against Chavez
Venezuela insists with US plot against ChavezVenezuela whose leftist president Hugo Chavez claims the United States plans to kill him, said Monday that it has beefed up maritime and air-space "vigilance" following the announcement of U.S. military exercises near Curacao, an island off the country’s northern coast.Navy commander Rear Admiral Armando Laguna told the government television network that Washington did not notify Caracas of the exercises off the Dutch Antilles Island "as traditionally is the case".
However he added that the air naval display seems to be routine "and there is no reason to alarm the population". According to Admiral Laguna the exercise involves Marines, warplanes and amphibious troop-landing craft.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a left-wing populist who has been at odds with Washington since taking office in 1999, early last week accused the U.S. government of plotting his assassination and said that his slaying would "light a fuse" throughout Latin America.
The George Bush administration described the accusation as "ridiculous and untrue." "The idea that we were out to get the president of Venezuela is just plain wrong," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
However, he reiterated that the United States, and other signatories of the Organization of American States' Democratic Charter are concerned with the Venezuelan government's treatment of the opposition as well as alleged limitations to freedom of the press and escalation of aggressive political rhetoric against the opposition.
Undeterred by the U.S. dismissal of Chavez's claim that Washington was planning to kill him, the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister insisted that an assassination could set off a regional powder keg.
Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez told the Organization of American States (OAS) that President George W. Bush's administration has prepared a string of "absurd" charges against Mr. Chavez, anticipation of "a possible attack on Venezuela".
Last February 20 President Chavez stated that the United States planned to assassinate him and “if something happens to me, I hold the president of the United States responsible".