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article imageVenezuela says 'enemy attack' killed Chavez, expels US officials

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 6, 2013 in World
Caracas - A few hours before the Venezuelan authorities announced the death of Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro appeared on national TV and made the suggestion that Chavez's cancer death was the outcome of what he called an "enemy attack."
According to the Australian ABC.net, after the Venezuelan Vice President announced that Chavez's health had taken a turn for the worse and that he was struggling to breath after contracting a new severe infection, he accused the country's "enemies" of causing the ailment of the president.
ABC News reports that in a TV speech on Tuesday afternoon, Nicolas Maduro launched an attack on the Venezuelan opposition, saying that Venezuela's "historical enemies" found a way to "damage the commander's health."
According to ABC.net, Maduro said a scientific commission would be formed and that it would reveal "Chavez was attacked with this disease." He concluded that "the historic enemies of this nation looked for how to harm the health of our commander."
NBC News reports than in the address delivered from the presidential palace, he said: "There's no doubt that Commandante Chavez's health came under attack by the enemy. The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health."
He drew a parallel to the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat blamed on Israeli agents.
During the speech, Maduro announced the expulsion of a US Air Force attaché from the country. He alleged: "This officer has embarked on the task of looking for active members of the Venezuelan military, in the first place to find out more about the situation of our armed forces, and secondly, to invite them to participate in destabilizing projects."
He identified the name of the US officer as David del Monaco. NBC News identified a second officer also expelled as Devlin Kostal.
The US military has said it was aware of the allegations and that the air force attache, Colonel David Delmonico, was "en route back to the United States."
The Venezuelan authorities gave the two American Air Force attachés 24 hours to leave the country.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, said in a statement that it was "absurd" for the Venezuelan authorities to suggest that the US was involved in Chavez's illness.
According to NBC News, the Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, said: "We completely reject the Venezuelan government's claim that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela government. Notwithstanding the significant differences between our governments, we continue to believe it important to seek a functional and more productive relationship with Venezuela based on issues of mutual interest. This fallacious assertion of inappropriate U.S. action leads us to conclude that, unfortunately, the current Venezuelan government is not interested in an improved relationship."
With Maduro's statements coming a few hours before the announcement of Chavez's death, analysts believe that the authorities had only been preparing the nation for the news of the death.
Venezuela had a strained relationship with the US under Chavez's rule. In 2008, the Venezuelan government expelled the American ambassador, accusing him of involvement in plans for a military coup.
Digital Journal reported in January that Chavez was in an induced coma and that he was being kept alive by life support after complications following a cancer surgery. The complications came after he was re-elected for another six-year term in October 2012.
Chavez had been fighting an aggressive form of pelvic cancer since June 2011. He had several surgeries but the Venezuelan authorities refused to give details about his illness. On December 8, soon after he won re-election, Chavez announced that his cancer had come returned after a previous surgery.
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