Emails Implicate US in Alleged Presidential Assassination Plot in Venezuela
June 1, 2014
Argentina Independent & Colombia Reports & David Leveille / PRI
The Venezuelan government has unveiled a series of emails that appear to show opposition figures plotting an assassination attempt against President Nicolas Maduro, seemingly with financial backing from the US. Maduro has authorised a criminal investigation into the exchanges, in an attempt to "stop this madness." The US has rejected the allegations. Venezuelan officials have promised to release more details in the coming days.
Venezuela: Government Reveals Assassination Plot
(May 30 2014) -- Yesterday the Venezuelan government unveiled a series of emails which appear to show opposition figures plotting an assassination attempt against President Nicolas Maduro, seemingly with financial backing from the US.
At the press conference, mayor of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, showed an email written on 23rd March by right-wing former deputy Maria Corina Machado and sent to Gustavo Tarre, a lawyer who is under investigation by the Public Ministry, orchestrating "violent actions" and the assassination plot.
Other mails showed communication between Machado, former governor Henrique Salas Römer, Diego Arria, and US officials talking of financial backing for the opposition from the US, as well as economic support by the fugitive Venezuelan banker Eligio Cedeno, currently residing in the US. Rodriguez said that at least one US State Department official was involved in the plot.
He went on to say that the government has more evidence that it would not be disclosing, due to the sensitivity of the materials, and called on the opposition to deny the accusations and for Venezuelans to publicly reject the emails.
The mayor of Caracas then confirmed that Maduro has authorised a criminal investigation into the exchanges, in an attempt to "stop this madness".
The opposition's response was confused, with some claiming the emails were fake, whilst others responded saying that telephones used to send the messages had been stolen. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles called the emails a "government conspiracy against the people".
The reports come in the same week the US House of Representatives approved a bill to introduce sanctions against Venezuelan officials involved in human rights abuses. The legislation calls for a travel ban on some members of the Venezuelan government and for their assets in US banks to be frozen. However, the White House has opposed sanctions against the Maduro government, to give the Unasur-brokered dialogue a chance of working.
Anti-government protests erupted in Venezuela in February and have left at least 42 dead and dozens more injured
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Caracas Mayor Alleges US, Colombia Plot to Assassinate Venezuelan President
(May 28, 2014) -- The mayor of Venezuela's capitol has accused Colombia and the US of conspiring to stage a coup to assassinate the Venezuelan president, Colombian newspaper El Espectador reported on Wednesday.
Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodriguez claimed to have evidence of the coup and assassination plans from intercepted emails allegedly sent between Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, among others, and the US's newly-appointed ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker.
"We announce (. . .) that there is a complex plan aimed at ending the peace in this country, including, in the first place, the assassination attempt (. . .) from Venezuela's right-wing attempt to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro along with a military coup in development, which has fortunately been disabled," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also claimed that within the emails was evidence that student protests that have been ongoing in Venezuela since February were not in any way spontaneous.
The Venezuelan mayor said that the protests were just one phase of an "ongoing coup" aimed at destabilizing the region and eliminating President Maduro, so that foreign intervention could be imposed.
From one of the intercepted emails, Rodriguez alleged that Machado communicated with a lawyer stating, "Kevin Whitaker has already reconfirmed support to me and indicated new steps."
The alleged email went on to read, "We have a stronger checkbook than the regime, for to break the international security ring that they themselves had created."
Rodriguez indicated that the US ambassador to Colombia is involved in the plans to destabilize the Venezuelan government and that on Wednesday the US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a motion to encourage the Obama administration to impose sanctions against members of the Venezuelan Government suspected of violating human rights.
US Rejects Venezuela's Accusations
Of a Plot to Overthrow its Government
David Leveille / PRI
(May 29, 2014) -- When you're under pressure blame Washington. That's long been the playbook for the government of Venezuela, first under the late Hugo Chavez and now under his successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Well, Maduro has been under intense pressure lately with widespread student street protests. And once again, those in power in Caracas are blaming the US. Specifically, the American ambassador in neighboring Colombia, Kevin Whitaker. Prior to serving in Colombia, Whitaker was the State Department's representiative for the Andean region.
BBC Mundo's Arturo Wallace says the mayor of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, laid out the government's accusations Wednesday, reading from emails supposedly written by opposition leaders to Whitaker, where they discuss how to create a political crisis to oust Maduro.
"The mayor quoted a series of emails between several leading members of the Venezuelan opposition, chiefly among the former opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado, in which they mention the support and even instructions from the US ambassador to Bogota, Kevin Whitaker," Wallaca says.
"It's not clear whether they're referring to an alleged plot to kill President Maduro or just to the general strategy of trying to increase the pressure on President Maduro through street protests to try to force his resignation, to destabilize the Bolivian Revolution as they call it here in Venezuela."
One email mentions the need to "step up efforts" and obtain financial help to "annihilate Maduro." Wallace says that the Venezuelan government is interpreting that as an assassination plot.
"Beyond the emails, they say they have other evidence they will disclose in due time, and there is a criminal investigation underway." Wallace reports that Machada has denied the accusations, saying anyone looking at the text carefully would notice they're not written in her style. She calls the emails fabrications, saying the current Venezuelan government is desperate because of the street protests that have been affecting Venezuela for the last three months. The US State Department says the accusations were baseless.
Wallace says there's a pattern to these political accusations. "This is not the first time President Maduro actually denounced assassination attempts. He has even implicated the former Colombia president Alvaro Uribe, but so far none of these alleged plots resulted in any sort of formal accusation against the alleged plotters."
Wallace says this latest set of accusations is seen by opposition forces as proof of how desperate the Venezuelan government is. The government is seen as "trying to intimidate people and distract people from the real problems."
Wallace says things might change if the charges are formally presented and a criminal investigation is launched against Machado, "but so far it doesn't seem it would go that way." Rodriguez indicated that more evidence would be made public in the next few days.
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