Chavez orders US ambassador to leave Venezuela

September 12th, 2008 - 11:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Caracas, Sep 12 (IANS) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has asked the US envoy Patrick Duddy to leave the country within 72 hours, saying he was making the move in solidarity with Bolivia after that close ally expelled the top US diplomat there, the EFE news agency reported Friday.”Enough … from you, Yankees,” Chavez said Thursday night in the central state of Carabobo, using an expletive.

The leftist leader also announced that he was recalling his country’s envoy to the US, Bernardo Alvarez, “before they kick him out of Washington”.

He said his government would begin “evaluating diplomatic relations with the US government,” which would be responsible for what may happen with oil exports from Venezuela - the fifth-biggest supplier to the US.

Chavez, a frequent critic of the Bush administration and US foreign policy in Latin America and elsewhere, has repeatedly threatened in recent years to cut off oil supplies to the US and insists that Washington continues to plot to have him killed or ousted.

“When there’s a new US government we’ll send an ambassador. When a government that respects the people of Latin America,” Chavez said.

He said he began considering the possible expulsion of the US ambassador Wednesday after his close ally, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, ordered the US diplomat there to leave for allegedly instigating violent protests.

Eight people died Thursday in an armed clash between supporters and opponents of Morales, who has so far resisted using force to contain an open rebellion in separatist-minded provinces.

Militants demanding “autonomy” for the relatively prosperous eastern provinces that hold the lion’s share of Bolivia’s estimated 48 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - the impoverished Andean nation’s most valuable resource - continue to occupy government buildings, block road and attack energy infrastructure.

The ostensible aim of the protests is to force Morales to reverse his decision reducing the respective provinces’ share of natural gas revenues to fund old-age pensions.

On Thursday, Venezuelan military prosecutors said that an army general and a major had been arrested for allegedly plotting against Chavez, although they did not say whether the officers were active-duty or retired.

Chavez had announced the alleged plot earlier in the day and said that the plans to kill or depose him had been developed by the US and had the cooperation of pro-American sectors in Venezuela.

US-Venezuelan relations, which have grown testier in recent years, soured further this week after two Russian supersonic Tu-160 bombers arrived at a Venezuelan airfield for training flights.

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