The Vice President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, accused two U.S. diplomats of trying to drum up support for a plot against the government of the South American country.
Maduro claimed in a live speech on Tuesday that a U.S. Air Force attaché sought members of the Venezuelan military for proposed ”destabilization projects” against the government. Maduro alleged that official, who the U.S. embassy identified as David Delmonaco, of conspiring to create an “anti-Venezuela climate”.
Delmonico is reportedly en route to Washington while the second diplomat has been ordered to leave Venezuela within the next 24 hours.
Maduro warned that the Venezuelan government is “collecting evidence” of others “flying the malevolent flag” against the Chávez regime.
Shortly after Maduro’s remarks, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell urged the Venezuelan government to follow the country’s constitution and “hold new elections” if President Hugo Chávez is too ill to lead.
“Those elections are to be free and fair but we have not reached that situation,” Ventrell said.
Maduro also accused Venezuela’s “historic enemies” of causing the cancer that first infected President Hugo Chávez in 2011. (In December of that year Chávez raised the possibility that a cancer “conspiracy” hit him and other Latin American presidents.)
Maduro in his address echoed a Venezuelan government statement emitted Monday evening on the “very delicate” health of the ailing president. He urged Chavistas to “pray for the health of our commander who is facing his most difficult hours” since the president underwent cancer surgery on December 11th in Cuba.
Prior to Maduro’s speech, a Venezuelan opposition spokesman called on the government to avoid using an “aggressive and offensive tone” and blamed officials of governing with their own political interests in mind.
In the meantime U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia proposed the Venezuelan Liberty Act, a proposal to grant permanent residency to undocumented Venezuelans currently residing in the U.S. According to the Miami Herald:
“Many of these people have spent a big part of their lives here,” Garcia said at a press conference at his office in west Miami-Dade County. “Many are people who attend schools with our children, who are business partners with us and who live in a very difficult status and we want to give them a forward solution”…
Garcia said between 85,000 and 160,000 undocumented Venezuelans nationwide would be covered by his proposal. Leaders of the Venezuelan community said more than 70 percent of undocumented Venezuelans live in South Florida.In the past eighteen months Chávez has undergone four cancer surgeries as well as radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Last year he was reelected to the presidency but he has yet to be sworn in.
Video Source– YouTube via teleSUR
Online Sources – Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal, El Nacional, El Espectador, Reuters, El Universal, Miami Herald