Venezuela’s acting President warns about U.S. led assassination attempt on political rival

Nicolas Maduro says that Pentagon and CIA plan to assassinate Capriles

By DANIEL WALLIS | REUTERS | MARCH 18, 2013

Venezuela’s acting president urged U.S. leader Barack Obama to stop what he called a plot by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency to kill his opposition rival and trigger a coup before an April 14 election.

Nicolas Maduro said the plan was to blame his opponent’s murder on the OPEC nation’s government and to “fill Venezuelans with hate” as they prepare to go to vote following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Maduro first mentioned a plot against his rival, Henrique Capriles, last week, blaming it on former Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. Both rejected the allegations as untrue, outrageous and defamatory.

“I call on President Obama – Roger Noriega, Otto Reich, officials at the Pentagon and at the CIA are behind a plan to assassinate the right-wing presidential candidate to create chaos,” Maduro said in a TV interview broadcast on Sunday.

Maduro, who is Chavez’s preferred successor, said the purpose of the plot was to set off a coup and that his information came from “a very good source.”

During his 14 years in power, the charismatic but divisive Chavez, who died March 5 after a two-year battle with cancer, often denounced U.S. plots against him and his “revolution.” Critics dismissed those claims as a smokescreen to keep voters focused on a sense of “imperialist” threat.

In kicking off the opposition’s campaign in the provinces on Saturday, Capriles said Maduro would be to blame if anything happened to him.

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Venezuelan Vice President delivers State of the Nation speech while Chavez remains in Cuba

By IAN JAMES and VIVIAN SEQUERA | AP | JANUARY 16, 2012

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro took the place of ailing President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday by delivering a short speech and turning in a state-of-the-nation report amid legal debate about his legitimacy.

Maduro submitted the report in writing from Chavez’s government while the president remained in Cuba undergoing treatment after his fourth cancer-related surgery. Opposition politicians argued that the annual speech should have been postponed because the president is supposed to deliver it, and about a dozen walked out in protest.

Maduro announced during the speech, a day after visiting with Chavez in Cuba, that the president designated former vice president Elias Jaua as the new foreign minister. Maduro had kept the foreign minister’s post after his appointment as vice president in October.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said the naming of Jaua as foreign minister should be reviewed because it was unclear under what authority the vice president was acting when such powers belong to the president alone.

Only a portion of the opposition’s representatives walked out of the National Assembly session.

Reflecting critics’ charges of heavy Cuban influence in the political events unfolding in Venezuela, one of the legislators who left, Maria Corina Machado said: “The government of Venezuela today is in Cuba, and that’s in violation of the constitution.”

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez dismissed the opposition’s allegations that the government was acting illegally by going ahead with the special legislative session.

“There’s no constitutional controversy,” Ramirez told reporters, calling the politicians who walked out “the most extremist sector of the far right.”

It was the second time in less than a week that Maduro has presided over an event that would normally have been led by Chavez. Maduro says Chavez remains in charge as president, though it remains unclear when the president might be well enough to address Venezuelans or return home.

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