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Montevideo, February 20th 2019 - 07:27 UTC

Venezuela calls US official “impertinent”

Wednesday, February 9th 2005 - 20:00 UTC
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Venezuela described Tuesday as “impertinent” United States expressions of concern regarding planned arms purchases from Russia.

Caracas' Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel suggested that the Bush administration address problems closer to home such as the burgeoning deficit and abuse of detainees at Guantanamo and in Iraq.

"Spokesmen for the State Department continue making impertinent statements with the deliberate aim of provoking Venezuela. They will not succeed in doing so" said Mr. Rangel in a press release.

Since former Army Colonel Hugo Chavez took office in early 1999, U.S.-Venezuelan relations have been generally strained. An admirer of Cuban president Fidel Castro, Mr. Chavez frequently attacks Washington as the embodiment of "imperialism" and war mongering.

Mr. Rangel's statement follows comments from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, who expressed Washington's concern that the recent purchase by Venezuela of 100,000 assault rifles and 40 helicopters from Moscow could set off a regional arms race.

Mr. Noriega asked what might happen if the arms end up in the wrong hands in what was interpreted as a reference to leftist insurgents in neighbouring Colombia. Mr. Chavez's critics claim he sympathizes with Marxist oriented Colombian guerrillas waging a four-decade-old rebellion against elected Colombian governments.

"The suggestion by the impertinent Mr. Noriega that some of those weapons might end up in hands other than those of the Venezuelan Armed Forces is rash" said Mr. Rangel adding that the purchase was simply to replace obsolete military equipment.

Vice-president Rangel went on to suggest that President George W. Bush should better concentrate about his domestic problems such as huge deficits and abuses of detainees in Guantanamo and Iraq. "Those are far more worrisome than the alleged problems pointed out in other countries", said the vice-president.

In a recent celebration speech President Chavez announced the strengthening of the Armed Forces in this his sixth year in office, "we must fortify the Armed Forces, then the civilian-military alliance and finally the people so they can support national defence". "Venezuela will not meddle with anyone, but beware those who meddle with Venezuela", blasted Mr. Chavez who indicated the people will defend the country's sovereignty and dignity "against imperialism" to the last drop of blood.

Besides the Russian purchases Venezuela is considering the acquisition of Chinese radars to reinforce Venezuela's air space. Mr. Chavez shopping list also includes uniforms from China; Russian MIG 29 and Brazilian radars.

Incoming US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her Congressional confirmation described Venezuela's President Chavez as an un-stabilizing element.

Categories: Mercosur.

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