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Hugo Chavez discusses Venezuelan coup

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez  

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was ousted in a military coup last month, but was returned to power two days later.

Chavez discussed the coup, and his concerns that the United States may have been involved, in an interview Friday with CNN. The United States has denied any involvement in the coup.

The following is an English translation of the interview.

CNN: Three weeks have passed from the incident. You have a great intelligence department, have they been able to detect any relation between the incident and an eventual participation of the United States in the related incident?

Chavez: You have to understand that I am not able to tell you fragments or parts of an investigation that has been giving us results although we have to look for it, gather information, reconfirm it etc. Because it is an extremely serious situation. What I can tell you is that there are indications or actions that give us a reason to speculate or signs that there was a possible participation of the United States. I don't want to believe that. I pray to God that that is not the case. For instance, we found that two active American military officials were involved in the coup. I have in my power a document of their presence, their names, their vehicles they were driving, when they left and who they spoke to. They spoke to the coup.

CNN: While the incident was taking place?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says there's evidence the U.S. may have been involved in coup that briefly removed him from power (May 4)

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Chavez: Yes, the group was at its strongest (when) they were masterminding an arbitrary and totalitarian government in Venezuela.

CNN: And we don't know what role they were playing?

Chavez: Look, I want to think and it is written in the reports, that they were out here looking for information. There is an important detail we must keep in mind ... the U.S. military office in Venezuela is located in the heart of the ... We had requested since last January for them to look for another location. They thought we were being aggressive but we don't think it is right for a military office to be at the heart of our military force. They are located at the entrance right where the tanks are. I imagine the military officials asking about where the tanks were going. I want to think that they just wanted to get information and not get involved.

CNN: Have they said anything about it? Do they agree that they were there or deny it? What has been their reaction?

Chavez: You know that I am not the right person to answer that question. There is a process we must follow to find out what happened. I imagine that the process for the investigation will be called upon to answer and investigate. I am not sure that they have been called on but it is not in my right to answer that.

CNN: Are you doubtful?

Chavez: The doubt is there, I want to believe in the declarations the U.S. government spokesmen have made as well as the declarations the Ambassador Charles Shapiro has made. He said they were there to ask what was going on and not to get involved. They wanted to know information so that they can inform their government about the situation. We also have other information for example the presence of a military ship real close to the Venezuelan coast.

CNN: An American ship?

Chavez: I can't tell you if it is American we are investigating. We have a radar system that has detected it. I have in my hands the radar image of the ship set in the Caribbean. It is real close to Aruba, Curacau. It is real, the signal is there. The ship is there and it is identified as a military ship that was in the water that day. Very close to the Venezuelan coast. We have the identification numbers on it.

CNN: Let me understand you. You are talking about a possible U.S. participation and you now are telling me about a ship. From the context of our conversation, would I be wrong to think that the ship was or is American?

Chavez: I don't even want to think about it but we are investigating.

CNN: You don't deny it or confirm it?

Chavez: I can't because we have to know what we have? And the press reported this, we have the identification numbers set in a secret code of course of the ship. We are asking for help to identify this ship. We want to know what country it is from because there is no doubt that there was a violation here. Not only was there a ship but a helicopter that rose from the ship. Around 2 o'clock on Saturday the 13th, the ship was very close to the Venezuelan coast there is a moment where, and I saw the movement on the radar, we can see that there is movement from the ship. We could tell it was an aircraft because of the speed it was going at. We could tell it was a helicopter from the movement that flew over the sea and then landed on the ship. An hour later we spotted a plane coming from the northeast.

CNN: What was the plane's origin?

Chavez: It was a military plane. We don't know what country it is from. All we have is the radar signal. We saw a ship, a helicopter and a plane. That show a military identification however, we don't know the nationality of these crafts.




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