US 'gave the nod' to Venezuelan coup
Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Julian Borger in Washington and Alex Bellos, South America correspondent
The Bush administration was under intense scrutiny yesterday for its role in last weekend's abortive coup in Venezuela, after admitting that US officials had held a series of meetings in recent months with Venezuelan military officers and opposition activists.
The White House yesterday confirmed that a few weeks before the coup attempt, administration officials met Pedro Carmona, the business leader who took over the interim government after President Hugo Chavez was arrested on Friday. But the White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, denied that the US had offered any support for a putsch.
The US defence department also confirmed that the Venezuelan army's chief of staff, General Lucas Romero Rincon, visited the Pentagon in December and met the assistant secretary of defence for western hemispheric affairs, Roger Pardo-Maurer.
The Pentagon said: "We made it very, very clear that the United States' intent was to support democracy and human rights, and that we would in no way support any coups or unconstitutional activity."
However, it was not made clear why the talks broached the subject of a coup, four months before the event. MORE