Venezuelan authorities thwarted a U.S.-linked plan to assassinate dictator Nicolás Maduro and replace him with an imprisoned former defense minister, regime officials claimed on Wednesday.
In a televised address, Maduro said that a network of former police officers and disillusioned officials planned to assassinate him and leading socialist official Diosdado Cabello before seizing the Miraflores presidential palace, the Carlota military base, and Venezuela’s Central Bank.
“We have revealed, dismantled and captured a fascist band of terrorists that planned a coup against Venezuelan society and Venezuelan democracy,” Maduro said. “They are captured, behind bars, with clear evidence after following this group of criminals and fascists.”
According to Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez, the alleged plotters planned to steal a helicopter and liberate Raúl Baduel, a former defense minister under Hugo Chávez, and install him as president.
#EnVivo 📹 | Planes golpistas contemplaban asesinato del presidente @NicolasMaduro y del presidente de la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente @dcabellor aseveró el vicepresidente sectorial @jorgerpsuv pic.twitter.com/YapUWMCyYE
— Prensa Presidencial (@PresidencialVen) June 26, 2019
Maduro went on to blame the plot on Colombian leader Iván Duque, who has sided with the U.S. and most other western democracies in denouncing the Maduro regime. He provided no evidence for his claims.
“Iván Duque and the government of Colombia’s complicity is evident in that fascist attempt to assassinate me with terrorist attacks, to assassinate leaders in Venezuela,” Maduro declared. “It is the Colombian oligarchy of Duque, of [former Colombian president Álvaro] Uribe Vélez, the assassins of Colombia. And the world must know, that Colombia is conspiring and trying to subvert the order, peace, and union of Venezuela and we will not tolerate it.”
Other individuals implicated in the plot included Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, all of whom denied involvement.
“Maduro, who clearly no longer trusts the Venezuelan military, is desperately repeating the same tired, baseless accusations,” said Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, on Thursday.
Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó, recognized by the U.S. and most regional allies as the country’s rightful head of state, dismissed the regime’s claims as false. “Once again, another novel by the regime,” said Guaidó, according to the Washington Post. “We are used to it, just as we are used to persecution by the dictatorship. It’s the only response they have left.”
The alleged plot comes less than a year after Maduro was subject to a failed assassination attempt when two drones detonated near him as he spoke at a military parade in Caracas. The Maduro regime later made numerous arrests in relation to the attack, while also accusing Colombia and the United States of complicity in the attack.