CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela on Monday announced the capture of two Colombian hit men implicated in an alleged plot against President Nicolás Maduro. The president also levied wide-ranging accusations targeting the United States and Costa Rica — among other countries — as having a hand in the alleged assassination plot.
Maduro demanded that U.S. President Barack Obama clarify if he ordered or knew of this “conspiracy,” which the Venezuelan leader attributed to political opponents with links to Miami and Bogotá.
“Is President Obama so weak that they made decisions for him in the United States to kill a Latin American head of state without his knowledge, or is he so weak that if he knew there are powerful forces in the United States who have decided to kill me he can’t stop them, or is it that he tried to physically eliminate me,” Maduro questioned on Monday in statements made to local press.
The president added that Costa Rica was the “epicenter of the meeting” between those who intended to kill him. The alleged meeting occurred in May, but Maduro provided no details beyond that.
Costa Rican Communications Minister Carlos Roverssi told the daily La Nación that the Costa Rican government’s official position is to not respond to the accusations, first reported by the AFP. He said Costa Rica has received no official communications about the accusations from the Venezuelan government.
Roverssi added that Costa Rica always has enjoyed a “cordial relationship” with Maduro and Venezuela, citing Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla’s visit to Chávez’s funeral in March, and the country’s sending a special delegation to Maduro’s inauguration.
“We will have to follow up on this matter, but in principle it seems absurd,” Roverssi told La Nación.
Maduro added that this is a “conspiracy of the international extreme right-wing,” and that political groups related to deceased Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and ex-Colombian President Álvaro Uribe were involved.
In declarations to the Colombian television station NTN24, Uribe said that he would prefer “to talk of important subjects and not of infamies from a dictatorship,” adding that “[Cuba’s Fidel] Castro and Chávez have appealed to infamy all their lives.”
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost April presidential elections by 1.49 percentage points but disowned the results, dismissed the accusations. “Due to their inability to govern, they look for distractions and talk of assassination,” he said.
Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez announced the capture of Colombians Víctor Johan Guache Mosquera and Erick Leonardo Huertas Ríos. The minister signaled that the two belonged “to a group of 10 men that came to carry out the assassination” of Maduro. He said the plot was orchestrated by Venezuelan opposition members in complicity with extreme right groups from the U.S. and Colombia. Rodríguez also implicated Costa Rica in the plot.
The Venezuelan president said he has “proof” that the “plot came from a terrorist group led by [anti-communism Cuban Luis] Posado Carriles.” In 1976, Carriles was accused by Venezuela and Cuba of masterminding the bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight. The attack killed all 73 people on board.
“President Obama, do you not know that in the United States the Posada Carilles group conspires … to commit these terrorist acts and a presidential assassination in Venezuela,” Maduro continued.
The arrest of the two Colombians was made possible with the support of the Colombian intelligence service, whom Maduro thanked through his Twitter account.
The administration has made frequent paranoid remarks since Maduro took over for Chavez in the spring. This is the second capture of alleged gunmen who looked to kill the Venezuela leader this summer. Last June, the government arrested two suspected members of Colombian paramilitary groups.
That same month, Chavez’s ex-vice president and defense minister, José Vincente Rangel, said that the opposition would be buying 17 U.S. planes in a plot against the Maduro government.
Tico Times correspondent Matt Levin contributed to this report.