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Development: On 9 April President Hugo Chávez said he will expel US ambassador William Brownfield if he provokes violence again.

Significance: Brownfield's misdemeanour was to be assaulted while handing out equipment at a baseball game. In the tit-for-tat exchanges that characterise Venezuelan-US relations, the ambassador's populist idea seems to be a small-scale imitation of Chávez 's decision to deliver subsidised heating oil to poor US communities, a move which irritated the US government.

On 7 April Brownfield travelled to a working-class neighbourhood in Caracas to hand out baseball equipment to little leaguers. Chávez supporters present at the stadium demanded he leave the game; when he did so, his four-car motorcade was followed by Chavistas hurling eggs and pounding on the vehicles.

Chávez claimed Brownfield was responsible for the attack, accusing him of "demagoguery, handing out gloves and balls […] If you keep provoking the Venezuelan people, start packing your bags because I'm going to kick you out of here." The president is a big fan of baseball but has been deterred from attending games for the last couple of years after he was subjected to booing by the crowds on numerous occasions.

A spokeswoman at the US embassy said the ambassador would continue to travel in Venezuela and would not be intimidated.

Published in Andean
Page 25 of 25

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