Venezuelans practice repelling U.S. invasion
Way to go Chavez! I hope they kick but if thier invaded.
SAN JUAN DE LAS GALDONAS, Venezuela -- Camouflaged soldiers jumped from boats into the surf and waded ashore in a mock assault Thursday, the latest in a series of Venezuelan military exercises preparing for a U.S. invasion that President Hugo Chavez warns could come.
Hundreds of men, women and children met the troops on the beach, some shouting "Gringos go home!" and "Freedom!" The soldiers ignored them and hiked into this small fishing town, stone-faced as they spread out and took control.
Other Venezuelan troops, playing the part of resistance forces, hid nearby in the mountains that run along the Caribbean coast, ready to attack the invaders.
Chavez, who accuses the Bush administration of trying to overthrow him, says close cooperation between the military and civilian defense groups is key to resisting any U.S. attack.
U.S. officials insist no such invasion is planned, but Chavez says the South American country must be ready just in case.
"We have to be prepared in case of a war," agreed resident Magaly Rojas, 38.
Smiling children ran after the troops, and two burly men shoved soldiers back into the sea before an officer explained that wasn't part of the drill.
"That's what is going to happen to the Americans if they come here," said Wolfang Pino, a 44-year-old electrician.
The beach assault was the culmination of a series of military exercises that began in this area in late August, including evacuations to simulate a natural disaster, officials said.
Navy commanders proclaimed the training, which included 2,500 military personnel and 100 civilians from reserve and territorial guards, a success.
After weeks of military exercises in the area, townspeople got their cue that the latest drill was beginning Thursday when two Venezuelan F-16 jet fighters roared overhead. People banged on pots and pans to organize, the school canceled classes, and much of the town massed on the beach as troops came ashore in boats from a landing ship several hundred yards offshore.
In the day's scenario, the country was supposedly already under the control of occupation forces.
Townspeople said that if a real landing occurred, they would hide and then attack invaders with whatever weapons they could find. Several residents said they feared the U.S. government might try to take control of Venezuela's oil fields given recent tensions between Chavez and President Bush.