Venezuela's Chavez warns Costa Rica on 'coup plot'
( 2003-11-03 10:07) (Agencies)
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday accused Costa Rican government officials of backing his opponents in an alleged coup plot from San Jose to topple his leftist government.
Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, in September cut off crude supplies to the Dominican Republic during a diplomatic dispute over similar vague charges Chavez made against the government of President Hipolito Mejia.
Chavez, a fiery, outspoken former army paratrooper who often denounces conspiracies against him, did not provide details about how Costa Rican officials were involved.
"I have information that there are sectors of the Costa Rican government that are supporting these coup mongers in San Jose, giving them support, giving them security, giving them resources," the president said.
"If Costa Rica's government takes the same attitude and allows conspiracies against Venezuela from San Jose then Venezuela won't sit back with its arms crossed," he said in his regular Sunday television broadcast.
Venezuela had been supplying the Dominican Republic with more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day -- more than half of its oil needs -- under the regional San Jose trade agreement. Costa Rica is part of the same accord.
Costa Rica earlier this year granted political asylum to Carlos Ortega, a firebrand Venezuelan union boss who led a crippling opposition strike in December and January that failed to topple Chavez.
Chavez, who also survived a brief coup in April last year, on Sunday played an unspecific audio tape he said was a recording of Ortega in San Jose, the capital of the small Central American nation, and another opposition leader talking over details of plans to destabilize his government.
Since he was first elected in 1998, Chavez has battled a determined campaign from opponents who accuse him of driving Venezuela into economic and political chaos. He brands them elites trying to scuttle his populist reforms for the poor.
His opponents hope to challenge Chavez at the ballot box with a referendum next year.
Venezuela suspended oil shipments to the Dominican Republic and recalled its ambassador in September after accusing a former Venezuelan president and oil traders of plotting against Chavez from Santo Domingo.
The Dominican Republic dismissed the allegations and Venezuelan officials last week held talks on smoothing over the spat and restoring oil supplies to the Caribbean island.
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