The battle of wills between Venezuela and the United States has erupted into open diplomatic warfare. President Hugo Chavez is threatening to end oil shipments to America, and has told the US ambassador to leave the country.
He told the Americans to get lost, though using rather more earthy language, and warned Washington against any aggression.
Chavez acted after announcing that two Russian war planes had arrived in Venezuela. Caracas and Moscow insist they are on a training mission, but the president said their presence was another “warning” to the United States.
Chavez is also cutting the number of flights by US airlines to and from Venezuela. Just days ago the Bush administration questioned security levels at Venezuelan airports.