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US denies link to Venezuela protests

US denies link to Venezuela protests

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – The U.S. ambassador to Venezuela on Tuesday rejected allegations by President Hugo Chavez that Washington was behind recent protests over a government measure that forced an opposition TV station off the air.

Chavez and other officials have leveled numerous accusations against the U.S. government in recent weeks, including allegations that Washington was involved in the broadcast of ‘subliminal’ television messages calling for the Venezuelan president’s assassination.

The U.S. government ‘is not supporting, participating in, pushing for or subliminally urging any of the people that march,’ U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield told Union Radio.

University students have led a series of recent street demonstrations protesting the president’s decision not to renew Radio Caracas Television’s broadcast license, which expired May 27.

Critics argue Chavez — a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro — is trying to muzzle his opponents by turning the signal previously used by RCTV over to a state-funded public broadcasting station.

Chavez, who has defends the move as a means of democratizing the airwaves, claims that Washington is behind the protests and has called student protesters ‘pawns’ of the U.S. government.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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