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Chavez claims us trains cuban terrorists in florida { September 25 2003 }

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   http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/caribbean/sfl-925chavez,0,2371037.story?coll=sfla-news-caribbean

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/caribbean/sfl-925chavez,0,2371037.story?coll=sfla-news-caribbean

Venezuela's Chavez claims U.S. training exiles in Florida to kill him
By JAMES ANDERSON
Associated Press

September 25, 2003, 4:04 PM EDT

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded Wednesday that the United States crack down on Cuban and Venezuelan ``terrorists'' allegedly training in Florida to kill him.

In a combative speech sure to strain U.S. ties, Chavez also lambasted President Bush for invading Iraq and dismissed Bush's plea at the United Nations for help in Iraqi reconstruction.

``Who gave the United States government the right to bomb cities, invade countries, overthrow governments?'' Chavez said. ``No one gave this right to the United States government. And here, we will keep saying that.''

Chavez was supposed to attend the U.N. summit on terrorism earlier this week in New York but said he canceled because of an alleged plot to kill him.

Chavez said he recently gave U.S. Ambassador Charles S. Shapiro a Florida newspaper article reporting that Cuban exile militias were training with Venezuelan armed forces exiles to kill Chavez.

He didn't identify the newspaper article but said he was still waiting for an answer from Washington.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Victoria Alvarado told The Associated Press that in November 2002, Chavez gave Shapiro an article on the subject published by a Venezuelan newspaper.

The information immediately was provided to the U.S. State Department and U.S. law enforcement, Alvarado said.

``We are in regular contact with the foreign ministry and Venezuelan security forces and we would welcome any information the Venezuelan government has on this issue because we take terrorist and criminal acts very seriously,'' Alvarado said.

Chavez was elected president in 1998 and re-elected in 2000. He once angered Washington by visiting Saddam Hussein and claims the United States was involved in a brief 2002 coup in Venezuela _ but has yet to offer public proof. Washington was slow to condemn the Venezuela coup.

Chavez has accused Washington of supporting Venezuela's opposition in a campaign for a recall vote on his presidency. The United States, Spain and other nations say such a vote could be the best way to defuse Venezuela's volatile political crisis. But Chavez told the AP last week he believed that legal and logistical obstacles made a recall vote unlikely before the next scheduled presidential elections in 2006.

As the recall campaign heats up, Chavez has stepped up his denunciations of alleged coup plots against his ``revolutionary'' government. He repeatedly accuses Washington of interfering in Venezuelan affairs. Adding to tensions, a bomb exploded last week inside the presidential compound. Chavez blamed coup plotters.

On Wednesday, he accused the United States and Spain, which supported the Iraq invasion, of engaging in a permanent campaign against his leftist government _ and took a dig at Bush, saying Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore with ``strong evidence of fraud.''

``But that's not our problem,'' Chavez said. ``The government of the United States should worry about its problems. It has plenty. And we Venezuelans will solve our own problems.''

Venezuela is a top oil supplier to the United States. Chavez's government has said it will guarantee those supplies despite political differences.
Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel



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