VIO News Blog

September 12, 2008

Coup Attempts in Bolivia and Venezuela, US Envoys Out

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 11:47 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

After the US Ambassador to Bolivia was expelled for holding secret meetings with opposition members involved in inciting civil unrest in that country, Venezuela’s President Chavez followed suit yesterday, dismissing Ambassador Patrick Duddy from Caracas. The AP reports that Chavez explained the move as an act of “solidarity” with Bolivia. The Venezuelan leader also recalled his envoy in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, but Reuters reports that US officials are say they will “kick him out.” Bolivia’s ambassador to the US was also declared “persona non grata,” according to the AP in what it refers to as an “escalating tit-for-tat.”

Reuters points out that tensions date back to 2002, when a coup against President Chavez “was initially welcomed by Washington.” A new plot to assassinate Chavez has been uncovered in Venezuela, the New York Times reports, and officials claim that it had the backing of the Bush administration. According to the AP, several individuals have been detained after taped telephone conversations revealed that they were discussing overthrowing the government. During a speech yesterday, President Chavez played some of those conversations back on live television as evidence.

In Bolivia, eight peasants and farmers have been killed in the eastern province of Santa Cruz at the hands of fascist opposition groups (pictured here). The violence has continued for days, and AFP reports that it has raised fears about a civil war. President Morales, who ordered the police not to use force against the violent groups, said “We are going to be patient and cautious.” The Brazilian government has also rallied behind the Morales administration, saying it would not tolerate an overthrow of the elected leader or a rupture of constitutional order.

Finally, in Florida, a trial continues regarding alleged spying by Venezuelan businessman accused by the US of acting as unregistered foreign agents. Rulings on the case have so far consistently favored the prosecutors. The men are pleading guilty to helping funnel money from the Chavez government to political campaigns in Argentina, which remains a tenuous claim. The judge, however, has not allowed the case to be seen as a politically motivated action by the US against Venezuela. News came today that the US Treasury is also sanctioning two Venezuelan officials they claim helped the FARC rebels in Colombia, and has frozen their assets. This is the latest in a string of harsh measures by Bush officials who wrongfully accuse Venezuela of supporting terrorism.

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