Was To Meet With Country's VP, Other Officials
Relations between the
United States and Venezuela have cooled several more degrees,
as a US congressional delegation scheduled to meet with
Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel and other government
officials Monday was not permitted to leave their aircraft after in
landed in Caracas. After waiting for approximately one hour, the
airplane left, according to a US embassy spokesman.
"Government officials did not allow them off the plane, and
that's the cause of the canceled visit," spokesman Brian Penn told
Venezuela's Globovision television station.
The group of six lawmakers, led by House International Relations
Committee Henry Hyde (R-IL), was met by Venezuelan customs
officials when they touched down in Caracas. According to Hyde's
office, the officials denied the delegation entry into
"The delegation members expressed their profound disappointment
in the Venezuelan government's capricious and unexplained
decision," the office said in a statement, as reported by the
The president of the airport denied the US accusation, however,
saying the aircraft
Airport president Jose Cabello denied the accusations, however,
saying the delegation left the airport shortly after US Ambassador
William Brownfield entered the airplane briefly as it sat on the
tarmac, then left in an embassy vehicle. The airplane left shortly
"They didn't contact Venezuelan authorities" at the airport,
Cabello told state-run Globovision. "We understand they went to
Aruba. There was no problem."
Neither Venezuelan officials, nor the US Embassy, were able to
elaborate further on the incident, according to the AP.
The incident comes as diplomatic ties between the US and
Venezuela remain strained, as President Hugo Chavez (above) --
a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro -- has accused the US of a
return to Manifest Destiny ideals in its relationship with Latin
The United States, in turn, has expressed doubt over the Chavez
administration's commitment to a democratic government in the
oil-rich South American nation -- which remains an important fuel
supplier for the US.