Chavez Says Americans Detained for Taking Pictures of Venezuelan Military Facility, RefineryBy Alice M. Chacon
Associated Press Writer
Apr 24, 2005
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's President
Hugo Chavez said Sunday that a woman linked to the U.S. military had been arrested while photographing a military installation,
and several U.S. citizens were also arrested for taking pictures of a refinery, signs that the Washington may be plotting
an invasion of his country.
Chavez's announcement, made during his weekly radio and television show, was thin on details and did not specify the woman's
nationality or supposed role in the military. But it came just two days after the U.S. embassy announced that Venezuela had
abruptly suspended a 35-year-old military exchange program between the two countries.
"We put her where we had to," Chavez said, without elaborating, giving an indication of when the incident took place or
saying if she had been released. "If she or any other U.S. official does this kind of activity again, they will be imprisoned
and face trial in Venezuela."
He also said that the Americans detained were journalists who were caught taking pictures of El Palito refinery, some 100
kilometers (62 miles) west of Caracas. They were released, Chavez said.
U.S. embassy officials could not be reached for comment Sunday about the incidents.
But the arrests, coupled with the decision to suspend the military exchange program, are likely to further strain relations
with Washington, which Chavez has repeatedly accused of supporting efforts to destabilize his government and to oust him from
Chavez said Sunday the program was canceled because U.S. officers in Venezuela were spreading a negative image of his government
to the soldiers they were training and were "sent here to turn our boys against us."
"It's best that they leave, until someday we can have transparent, clear relations and cooperation with the civil and military
institutions of the United States, the way we do with almost all governments in the planet," Chavez said.
William Brownfield, the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, said that Venezuela's announcement was a "sovereign decision" and
that the five U.S. officers in Venezuela participating in the program had been notified last week by phone and written notifications
that the program had been suspended.
Chavez pointed to the arrests of the woman and the other Americans as signs that the United States may be plotting an invasion.
Minutes before announcing the arrests, he aired a video of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, a U.S.-backed effort to
topple his close friend, Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Venezuela is a top U.S. oil supplier, but tensions have risen due to U.S. criticism of Venezuela's purchase of 100,000
assault rifles from Russia, and Chavez's continuous criticism of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Chavez accuses Washington of being behind a brief 2002 coup against him and of supporting other plots to oust him, but
U.S. officials deny the claims.
This story can be found at:
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