Tags: LT | Venezuela | US | Colombia

Chavez: U.S. Spy Plane Violated His Airspace

Sunday, 20 Dec 2009 08:04 PM

 

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An unmanned U.S. spy plane recently violated Venezuela's airspace and the military has been ordered to shoot down any such aircraft if it happens again, President Hugo Chavez said Sunday.

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"These are the Yankees. They are entering Venezuela," he said.

"I've ordered them to be shot down," Chavez said of the aircraft. "We cannot permit this."

Chavez has accused Colombia of allowing the United States to use its military bases to prepare a possible attack against Venezuela.

Both the U.S. and Colombia have denied such allegations in the past, saying the U.S. military presence is for the sole purpose of combating drug trafficking.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Robin Holzhauer said Sunday that Chavez's administration "has not contacted us about these concerns."

"If the Venezuelan government would like to speak with us about any issue, we would welcome discussions because we seek open dialogue with all nations in the hemisphere," Holzhauer said in a telephone interview.

It is not uncommon for Chavez to accuse other nations, especially the U.S. and its allies, of conspiring against Venezuela.

Last week, the president accused the Netherlands of letting the U.S. military use Dutch islands off Venezuela's Caribbean coast to prepare for a possible military offensive. The former paratroop commander said the U.S. military has sent intelligence agents, warships and spy planes to Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, which are self-governing Dutch islands.

The Dutch government rejected the allegations and the country's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, has asked Venezuela's ambassador to clarify the claims, Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Bart Rijs said.

Rijs said U.S. soldiers do use civilian air fields on Curacao and Aruba, but only for anti-drug trafficking efforts.

Tensions between Venezuela and neighboring Colombia have been tense for months due to Chavez's accusations of warmongering and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's allegations that Venezuela has allowed Colombian rebel leaders to seek refuge there.

Chavez denied on Sunday that his socialist government is protecting Marxist guerrillas and warned Colombia's military against sending soldiers across the border.

"You'll be sorry," he said. "We are not unarmed."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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