Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez escalated his war of words with America yesterday, when he accused the US drug enforcement administration (DEA) of spying, and said Venezuela was suspending cooperation with the agency.
Mr Chávez, who regularly accuses the US of plotting against him, said "the DEA is not absolutely necessary for the fight against drug trafficking."
The DEA was using the fight against drug trafficking as a mask to support drug trafficking and to carry out intelligence in Venezuela against the government, Mr Chávez told reporters.
"Under those circumstances we decided to make a clean break with those accords, and we are reviewing them," Mr Chávez said, referring to the cooperative agreements under which the DEA has operated in Venezuela.
Prosecutors last month opened an investigation into the DEA's activities in Venezuela. "We have detected intelligence infiltration that threatened national security and defense," Mr Chávez said.
While he recognized that Venezuela is a transit point for Colombian cocaine, Mr Chávez said Venezuela's armed forces have made important advances against trafficking.
"We will continue working with international organizations against drug trafficking," he said.
Mr Chávez said specifics of the DEA decision will be announced soon. Mr Chávez's comments were the most specific to date on the accusations against the US agency.
The US ambassador, William Brownfield, said last week in a radio interview that the US hoped to maintain cooperative anti-drug efforts in Venezuela, and that without them "there is only one group that wins, and that group is the drug traffickers".
Mr Chávez sharply criticized US policy on drugs, saying that while the US is the world's top consumer of drugs, its government does little to try to lessen consumption.
He also criticized the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation of not doing enough to catch drug kingpins in the US.
The accusations were the latest in a series of rhetorical clashes between Mr Chávez and American officials.
The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has called Venezuela a "negative force" in Latin America and accuses Mr Chávez of turning it into a totalitarian society.
Last month saw the launch of Telesur, a pan-Latin American television channel based in Caracas. The channel's promoters describe it as an antidote to US media domination, but American politicians say it is a vehicle for anti-US propaganda.
Even before the channel was launched, the House of Representatives voted to enable the US to broadcast its own signals into Venezuela in retaliation. In response, Mr Chávez threatened to launch "electronic warfare" with the US.
Relations between Venezuela and the US have been tense since Mr Chávez took office in 1999. Mr Chávez accuses the CIA of involvement in the military coup that briefly deposed him in 2002, and in February said that President Bush was plotting to assassinate him.
US officials dismissed the accusations as ridiculous, but the White House gave implicit support to the coup attempt and has done little to hide its displeasure with Mr Chávez.
Despite frequent harsh words between governments, Venezuela remains a major supplier of oil to the US.