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Venezuela to Expel US Ambassador


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MSNBC.com

 

Venezuelan leader orders U.S. ambassador out

 

Chavez gives envoy 72 hours to leave, says move is in support of Bolivia

 

Associated Press

 

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that the U.S. ambassador has 72 hours to leave Venezuela and that he?s recalling his ambassador from Washington.

 

Chavez said he was asking U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy to leave in part to show solidarity with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who expelled Washington?s envoy in La Paz.

 

?They?re trying to do here what they were doing in Bolivia,? Chavez said. ?That?s enough ... from you, Yankees,? he said, using an expletive.

 

The socialist leader said Venezuela?s ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, would return to the U.S. ?when there?s a new government in the United States.?

 

The move by Chavez brings relations with Washington to a new low and raises questions about whether the diplomatic clash could eventually hurt trade. Venezuela is a major oil supplier to the United States, which is the country?s No. 1 client.

 

Chavez announced the decision during a televised speech, hours after saying his government had detained a group of alleged conspirators in a plot to overthrow him.

 

Chavez accused the group of current and former military officers of trying to assassinate him with backing from the United States. He didn?t offer evidence.

 

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied Chavez?s accusations that Washington has backed plots against him.

 

Asked about Chavez?s remarks, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Jennifer Rahimi said: ?We saw the speech and we?re investigating, but we haven?t seen anything official.?

 

Chavez warned last month that Duddy could soon be ?packing his bags? after the diplomat lamented that U.S. and Venezuelan officials have not been cooperating in the war on drugs.

 

Duddy has said that deteriorating diplomatic relations between Caracas and Washington were giving drug smugglers the upper hand.

 

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I find it interesting that Chavez picked now to expel our ambassador, especially since Bush has been in office since 2001. He waited until Bush's time in office is pretty much done?

 

Still, this is really big news that may reflect on the oil market, among other things.

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What's more interesting is when will the U.S. start to take Latin America seriously. We're playing war games thousands of miles away when we have dictators with money, power, and ties to terrorism, in our own backyard.

 

We spend billions in Iraq and we refuse to support our only true unwavering ally not named Israel, which of course is Colombia.

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