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‘Chavez was killed by historical enemies of our homeland’: Extraordinary claims made by Venezuela’s vice-president as he kicks out two U.S. diplomats

The Daily Mail

Venezuela’s vice president announced on Tuesday that two U.S. Embassy officials were expelled for allegedly spying on Venezuela’s military, as he accused the U.S. of infecting the country’s leader with cancer. 
U.S. Embassy’s Air Force attache, Col. David Delmonaco, and assistant air attache, Maj. Devlin Kostal, were named as the officials being kicked out of the country.

The allegations against the American officials were made during a speech by Venezuelan Vice President Maduro, during which he accused ‘the historical enemies of our homeland’ of infecting the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with cancer.

The U.S. government confirmed that the two officials named were employed at the embassy. Col. Delmonaco was en route back to the U.S. and Major Kostal was in the U.S. at the time of the announcement and will not be returning to Venezuela.

In Washington, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said, ‘We are aware of the allegations made by Venezuelan Vice President Maduro over state-run television in Caracas, and can confirm that our Air Attache … is en route back to the United States.’The Venezuelan government has accused the two men of spying on Venezuela’s military.

A State Department spokesman denied the allegations made against the officers, according to the Army Times.

‘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,’ said Patrick Ventrell, in a statement.

‘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.

‘An assertion that the United States was somehow involved in causing President [Hugo] Chavez’s illness is absurd, and we definitively reject it.’

U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that in retaliation to Venezuela’s move, several Venezuelan diplomats would likely be asked to leave the U.S.

Vice President Maduro said on Tuesday that the U.S. officials were being expelled as the government sought to remove elements ‘seeking to stir up trouble.’

Maduro said ‘we have no doubt’ that Chavez’s cancer, which was first diagnosed in June 2011, was induced by foul play by ‘the historical enemies of our homeland,’ a phrase Venezuelan officials typically use when referring to the U.S.

He compared the situation to the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, claiming Arafat was ‘inoculated with an illness.’

Maduro’s speech came just hours before the government announced that President Chavez had died at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer.

Chavez’s inner circle has long claimed the United States was behind a failed 2002 attempt to overthrow him, and he has frequently played the anti-American card to stir up support. Venezuela has been without a U.S. ambassador since July 2010.

The country’s late president had previously spouted his own opinion of his cancer diagnosis, saying he believed ‘a technology created by the U.S.’ was responsible for infecting Latin American leaders with cancer.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner received treatment for thyroid cancer in 2011 and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo have also battled the disease.

‘Wouldn’t it be weird if they [the U.S.] had developed a technology for inducing cancer and nobody knows up until now?’ Mr Chavez had said in 2011.

In reaction to Chavez’s death, President Barack Obama issued a statement encouraging the country to start a ‘new chapter.’

‘At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,’ Mr Obama said.

‘As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.’

READ MORE VENEZUELA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Venezuela Files



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