U.S. envoy chased, pelted in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela — Supporters of Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez pelted the U.S. ambassador's car with fruit, vegetables,
and eggs today, and a group of motorcyclists chased his convoy for miles,
at times pounding on the cars, a U.S. Embassy official said. No one
"We're being attacked by groups of motorcyclists while we're traveling in an embassy car," Penn told The Associated Press by cell phone shortly before the motorcycles stopped chasing the four-car convoy.
"It's a very violent demonstration by a small group of people who appear to be organized by the mayor's office," Penn said.
He said the protest started when Brownfield made a visit to a baseball stadium in southern Caracas to hand out bats and other donated equipment to a youth league.
During the event, a Chavez supporter who wore an identification badge of the pro-Chavez mayor's office walked up and said the people in the area wanted Brownfield to leave, Penn said.
He stayed and finished the event, by which time a protest by a few dozen people had formed outside, chanting "Go home! Go home!"
Penn said the barrage of fruit, vegetables and eggs began when the convoy finally pulled out and drove through an adjacent market.
"They were throwing fruits, eggs. Our car is stained all over. The ambassador's car has been hit," Penn said. "They were pounding on the cars, including pounding on the ambassador's car while they were driving. There was no one stopping them."
He said the motorcyclists chased the convoy for three or four miles.
"The motorcyclists were throwing things at us for at least 10 minutes, and the police did nothing," Penn said. "It was serious."
Brownfield has faced protests at various recent appearances, as Chavez has repeatedly accused Washington of conspiring to overthrow him, an accusation U.S. officials have denied. The American embassy also has asked the Venezuelan government improve security for the ambassador.
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