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Hugo Chavez Says His Navy Chased Off a Mysterious Submarine Engaged in "Espionage"

​Hugo Chavez is no stranger to conspiracy theories. Shortly after a January 12, 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti, one of his spokesmen claimed the disaster was the result of the United States testing a secret weapon ultimately intended to destroy Iran.

On Wednesday, Chavez announced that his navy had spotted a mysterious submarine near the Caribbean island of Orchila, but that the "nuclear-powered submarine" had been too fast for Venezuela's diesel subs to catch.

But we're giving this a low score on the crazy-o-meter. Why? Because Hugo is probably being watched.

The sub was spotted on Tuesday while Venezuelan troops were conducting drills.

"It was pursued," Chavez told state TV. "[But] it escaped because it's much faster than ours." He didn't say exactly who he thought had sent the sub, but the socialist leader left some hints.

"We can't accuse anyone," Chavez said. "Now you know how the empires are used to going around the Caribbean Sea and going everywhere, and they also use their satellites for espionage. It's espionage."

Herman Cain, if you reading, by "empire" he means the United States.

The George W. Bush administration is widely thought to have approved -- if not supported -- a 2002 coup against Chavez that briefly unseated him from office.

Relations haven't improved any under President Obama. With what should be a close election for Venezuelan president coming up in October of 2012, it's not entirely implausible that los gringos would be shadowing Chavez.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.

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