San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Venezuelan president asks Obama to stop murder plot targeting rival candidate

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro urged U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday to halt an alleged plot to kill opposition leader Henrique Capriles ahead of the April 14 presidential vote.

Capriles, whom fallen leader Hugo Chávez beat in October, is running in the upcoming election against Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor.

Maduro told the private Televen station that the U.S.-planned plot aims to “blame the government” for the attack and “create chaos in Venezuela,” which was rocked earlier this month by the death of longtime president and U.S. foe Chávez after a two-year battle with cancer.

Maduro accused the CIA and the Pentagon, as well as former U.S. diplomats Roger Noriega and Otto Reich, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, of planning the scheme.

Maduro also said opposition groups were involved, and vowed his government would provide “protection for all presidential candidates,” and in particular Capriles.

But Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, took to Twitter to say Maduro would be to blame for “anything that happens.”

Washington and Caracas have had strained diplomatic ties ever since Chávez first came to power in 1999. They have not had ambassadors in their respective capitals since 2010.

Venezuela has accused the United States on a number of occasions of being behind plots to overthrow or kill Chávez, and of trying to destabilize the government.

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