A senior Venezuelan army general said the government of the South American country has proof the United States was involved in a short-lived coup against President Hugo Chavez last year.
Army Gen. Melvin Lopez, secretary of Venezuela's National Defence Council, said Tuesday "proof exists" the U.S. administration was involved in the mid-April putsch. He declined to give further details. "We have the evidence," Lopez said during an interview broadcast by Venezuela's state-run television channel.
Lopez said three U.S. military helicopters were on Venezuelan territory during the coup.
A spokesmen from the Pentagon declined comment on the allegation Tuesday night.
Dissident generals rose up against Chavez on April 11, 2002, several hours after 19 Venezuelans died and over 100 were wounded by gunfire as opposition marchers clashed with government supporters in downtown Caracas.
Loyalists in the military returned Chavez to power two days later.
Following his return, Chavez said "worrying details" had emerged suggesting a foreign country might have been involved in his temporary overthrow.
Chavez said a coastal radar installation had tracked a foreign military ship and helicopter operating over Venezuelan waters a day after his ouster. Chavez did not say which country had sent the ship and helicopter but governing party legislators have accused the United States of helping execute the coup.
The U.S. administration has repeatedly denied it was involved in the coup but acknowledged having held conversations with Venezuelan opposition leaders and military officers prior to the rebellion against Chavez.
A month after Chavez returned, the U.S. Embassy denied allegations U.S. military vessels were in Venezuelan territory.