Venezuela has expelled a US Embassy attaché for meeting with Venezuelan military officials and plotting to destabilize the oil - rich South American country.
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on Tuesday on national television after holding an emergency meeting with the country’s high military command and civilian leaders. He accused David Delmonaco, an Air Force attaché for the US Embassy in Caracas, of seeking military assistance for a plot against the government, and said that Delmonaco had been spying on Venezuela ' s military. US Embassy spokesman Greg Adams confirmed Delmonaco ' s identity but refused to comment on the expulsion. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale stated that Delmonaco “is en route back to the United States. ” Meanwhile, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said a second US Embassy official had been declared " persona non grata " and that he had 24 hours to leave the country. In addition, the Venezuelan vice president stated that someday there will be " scientific proof " that President Hugo Chavez, who died later in the day after a nearly two - year battle with cancer, had been infected by " imperialist " enemies.
" We have no doubt that commander Chavez was attacked with this illness, " Maduro said.
"The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health," he noted. On February 18, Chavez returned to Caracas from Cuba, where he had cancer surgery. The 58-year-old Venezuelan president traveled to Havana on December 10 for a fourth operation after his cancer reappeared, despite a year and a half of treatment. In late March 2012, Chavez began radiation treatment in Cuba after an operation in February 2012 that removed a second cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. Chavez’s first tumor, which was baseball-sized, was removed in June 2011, and then he received chemotherapy. Chavez, who came to power in 1999, was reelected to a new six-year term in October.