12/09/2008 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the US envoy to Caracas late Thursday and threatened to halt crude exports to the United States on a day he highlighted the recent arrival of two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers.
Chavez on Thursday ordered US ambassador Patrick Duddy to leave the country within 72 hours, in a move he described as an act of solidarity with Venezuela’s ally Bolivia, which also expelled its US envoy.
“If there is any aggression towards Venezuela” from Washington, “there would be no oil for the people of the United States,” said
President Evo Morales on Wednesday accused Ambassador Philip Goldbergof contributing to divisions in the country which the government warned was headed towards “civil war.”
Also Thursday Chavez announced that his government had uncovered a coup plot hatched by active and retired military officers, which he said had tacit US approval.
A military prosecutor said two officers — retired general Wilfredo Barroso and retired major Elimides Labarca Soto — will be tried for incitement to rebellion, a charge punishable by five to 10 years in prison.
The United States for its part, responded by ordering the expulsion of Bolivia’s envoy to Washington.
“In response to unwarranted action and in accordance with the
Vienna Convention, we have officially informed the government of
Bolivia of our decision to declare Ambassador Gustavo Guzman persona non grata,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.