June 19, 2013
Venezuela's Chávez says US detainee was Marine
A US citizen arrested in Venezuela while entering illegally from Colombia is a former US Marine and is refusing to explain himself under interrogation, President Hugo Chávez said on Friday.
The United States is expressing skepticism over the latest incident between the two ideologically opposed nations, but says its diplomats should be given access to the man if Chávez's statements are true.
The Venezuelan president is running for re-election at an Oct. 7 vote and has been frequently invoking the possibility of violent actions by Venezuela's opposition with US blessing.
"I'm struck by the fact that just a few weeks before the election, this has happened," he said, giving the latest details about the unnamed man in Venezuelan custody.
Opponents say Chávez, like Cuba's Castro brothers, likes to play up the idea of an external threat to bolster his own standing at home. His predictions of violence are, they say, particularly cynical given his own history of a failed military coup against then-President Carlos Andres Perez in 1992.
Venezuela says the US citizen, of Hispanic origin, was arrested earlier this month crossing into Venezuela from Colombia with a notebook full of geographic coordinates that he tried to destroy.