President Hugo Chavez accused the United States on Sunday of attempting to encourage the secession of an oil-rich region in western Venezuela and demanded independence for the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.
Chavez said US officials were working behind the scenes with the governor of Zulia state, which is home to much of Venezuela's all-important oil industry, to create a secession movement loyal to US interests.
"The imperialists are there trying to give strength ... trying to give form to a secessionist movement, of course, to take control of the great oil wealth there," said Chavez, speaking during his weekly television and radio program "Hello President."
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