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US ambassadors car pelted in caracas venezuela { March 2006 }

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   http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1819229

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1819229

U.S. Envoy's Car Pelted in Venezuela
U.S. Ambassador's Car Pelted by Eggs, Chased for Miles by Motorcyclists in Venezuela
By IAN JAMES
The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela Apr 7, 2006 (AP) Supporters of President Hugo Chavez threw eggs and fruit at the U.S. ambassador's car Friday and motorcyclists chased his convoy for miles, at times pounding on the vehicles. The U.S. State Department swiftly accused Caracas city officials of complicity.

Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez was summoned to the State Department in Washington and told that Venezuela was in violation of an international convention that requires host countries to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats, department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Brian Penn, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, said Venezuelan police escorts did not intervene as a car carrying Ambassador William Brownfield was pounded and pelted. No one was hurt.

"We're being attacked by groups of motorcyclists while we're traveling in an embassy car," Penn told The Associated Press by cell phone shortly before the motorcycles stopped chasing the four-car convoy.

"It's a very violent demonstration by a small group of people who appear to be organized by the mayor's office," Penn said.

The Caracas mayor's office, however, denied any involvement. "No official authorized by the mayor's office participated," said Luis Martinez, a spokesman for Mayor Juan Barreto.

Brownfield has faced protests at recent appearances. Chavez has repeatedly accused Washington of conspiring to overthrow him, an accusation U.S. officials have denied. The U.S. Embassy has asked the Venezuelan government to improve security for the ambassador, saying it's legally bound to do so, Penn said.

He said the protest began when Brownfield visited a baseball stadium in southern Caracas to hand out bats and other donated equipment to a youth league.

During the event, a Chavez supporter who wore an identification badge of the pro-Chavez mayor's office walked up and said the people in the area wanted Brownfield to leave, Penn said.

He stayed and finished the event, by which time a protest by a few dozen people had formed outside, chanting "Go home! Go home!"

Penn said the barrage of tomatoes, eggs and other items began when the convoy pulled out and drove through an adjacent market. He said National Guard troops were on hand and pushed the crowd back as the cars passed through.

"Our car is stained all over," Penn said. "They were pounding on the cars, including pounding on the ambassador's car while they were driving. There was no one stopping them."

He said the motorcyclists chased the convoy for three or four miles.

"The motorcyclists were throwing things at us for at least 10 minutes, and the police did nothing," Penn said. "It was serious."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Copyright 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures



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