Venezuela expels 2 US officials as Chavez worsens


Associated Press

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan officials say two Americans are being expelled from that country -- including a U.S. Embassy attaché who is accused of meeting with military officers and planning to destabilize the country.

The second U.S. official is also described as a U.S. Air Force attaché.

The announcement came as supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited churches to pray for his health. Yesterday, the government described his condition as "very delicate." He underwent a fourth cancer surgery in December, and is now said to have a "severe" respiratory infection.

Chavez has ruled Venezuela for more than 14 years, gradually placing all state institutions under his personal control.

Upon his death, the opposition would challenge a government candidate in a snap election that critics said should have been called in January, after Chavez was unable to be sworn in for a new term.

%@AP Links

019-c-12-(Frank Bajak (BY'-ak), AP correspondent)-"when he dies"-AP correspondent Frank Bajak reports there's no clear successor to Chavez. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *019 (03/05/13)>> 00:12 "when he dies"

018-c-16-(Frank Bajak (BY'-ak), AP correspondent)-"past few weeks"-AP correspondent Frank Bajak reports Hugo Chavez has been battling cancer for quite sometime and this new infection complicates his condition. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *018 (03/05/13)>> 00:16 "past few weeks"

GRAPHICSBANK: HUGO CHAVEZ, as Venezuela President, waves during 2012 parade commemorating Independence Day for Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela, finished graphic (5 Mar 2013)

APPHOTO XLAT154: In this photo released by Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro, top center in white, addresses the nation from Miraflores presidential palace during a meeting with top government ministers, the military high command and all 20 loyalist governors in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Maduro says the government of President Hugo Chavez plans to expel a U.S. Embassy official for meeting with military officers and planning to destabilize the country. Maduro spoke hours after the government said Chavez was in "very delicate" health after undergoing cancer surgery in December. The large images on display in the room are of Venezuela's independence hero Simon Bolivar. (AP Photo/Miraflores Presidential Press Office) (28 Feb 2013)

<<APPHOTO XLAT154 (02/28/13)>>

APPHOTO XFLL116: A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds photos of Chavez in Bolivar square in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. A severe new respiratory infection has hit cancer-stricken Chavez and his condition is "very delicate," Venezuela's government says. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) (5 Mar 2013)

<<APPHOTO XFLL116 (03/05/13)>>