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Venezuelan president expels US ambassador amid US-Bolivia tension

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the United States ambassador to Venezuela Thursday amid accusations by Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales that Washington is plotting to overthrow their governments. The accusations follow deadly clashes earlier this week in Bolivia between government forces and opposition militants. Bolivia on Wednesday accused the US of supporting opposition groups in the country's eastern regions.

The New York Times reports that Chavez announced Thursday that his government had discovered a US plot to kill him in a military coup and, as a result, was giving US Ambassador Patrick Duddy 72 hours to leave the country.

Venezuelan TV aired tapes on Wednesday of phone conversations among current and former Venezuelan military officials, which purportedly referred to the coup. The New York Times also notes that Chavez "has claimed at least 26 times in the last six years that there were plots to kill him."

The Guardian reports that none of the military officials mentioned as suspects in the coup appear to have been charged, nor has Caracas provided any evidence of US involvement. The US has denied Chavez's claims.

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