Chávez demands evidence his officials help rebels

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez challenged U.S. President Barack Obama Friday to prove U.S. claims that four Venezuelan officials are involved in drugs and arms trafficking.

The U.S. accused the four men Thursday of providing arms, security and training to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, the country’s main rebel group.

The Venezuelans were placed on the U.S. narcotics kingpins list, freezing any assets they might have in the U.S. and barring Americans from doing business with them.

Washington identified the men as Gen. Cliver Alcala, lawmaker Freddy Bernal, Amilcar Figueroa, a delegate to the Latin American Parliament, and intelligence official Ramon Madriz.

President Chávez says by putting the Venezuelan men on the blacklist, the U.S. might be laying the groundwork to eventually place Venezuela on a list of countries that support terrorism.

Venezuelan authorities delivered a formal complaint about the sanctions Friday to the U.S. Embassy.

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