U.S. officials meet with key anti-Chavez leaders
Jul 23--The State Department confirmed Wednesday that U.S. officials met with key Venezuelan opposition leaders this week in Washington.
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Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said that representatives from the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Christopher McMullen, met with Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma and Govs. Pablo Pérez of Zulia and Cesar Pérez Vivas of Táchira on Tuesday.
Ledezma's 2008 victory in the Caracas mayor's race was an upset to the administration of President Hugo Chavez. It was followed by a political reorganization that stripped most of the authority from the Caracas mayor and shifted the budget and political decisions to a district established by the pro-Chavez National Assembly and staffed by a Chavez appointee.
Chavez opponents Perez and Perez Vivas also won their governorships in 2008. Chavez has since accused Perez Vivas of conspiring with right-wing paramilitary groups, and Perez has been on a collision course with Chavez over the seizure of oil-service companies in the western part of the country.
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