September 12, 2008

Chavez Expels Ambassador of the ‘Yankees’


By Christopher Toothaker

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez ordered the U.S. ambassador to leave Venezuela in 72 hours and said he was immediately withdrawing his ambassador from Washington.

Chavez said Thursday night that U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy is no longer welcome, just as his close ally Bolivia expelled the American envoy from La Paz a day earlier.

"They're trying to do here what they were doing in Bolivia," Chavez said, accusing Washington of trying to oust him.

"That's enough ... from you, Yankees," he said during a televised rally, using an expletive.

Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, would return to the U.S. "when there's a new government in the United States, " the socialist leader said.

The move by Chavez brings relations with Washington to a new low and raises questions about whether the diplomatic clash could hurt trade. Venezuela is the fourth-largest oil supplier to the U.S., and Chavez threatened Thursday to cut off shipments "if there's any aggression against Venezuela."

He has made similar threats in the past, but the United States is his No. 1 oil client and taking such an action would debilitate his government financially.

relations on hold

Hugo Chavez, long at odds with Washington, appeared to leave the door open for restoring full relations once President Bush's successor is in the White House.

Originally published by BY CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER.

(c) 2008 Virginian - Pilot. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.