As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro tells it, he lives in a very dangerous world. Since narrowly winning election in April, his administration has said there have been almost a dozen plans to murder him.
The latest accusation came Wednesday after Maduro canceled his visit to the United Nations General Assembly and a speech in Bronx at the last minute. He then accused Roger Noriega, a former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States and beltway insider, and fellow former diplomat Otto Reich of a “crazy plan” to incite violence in New York, or, perhaps, even kill him.
Speaking from Washington on Thursday, Noriega said he has lost track of how many times Maduro has falsely accused him of plotting his demise.
“It’s not stressful,” he said of the recurring allegations. “I think Maduro is under more pressure than I am, and his comments reflect that. … He needs a boogeyman.”
Some of the alleged plots are modest, such as the assassins Maduro said crossed the Colombian border at the behest of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Others seem straight out of Hollywood: Former Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel once said the opposition had purchased 18 jet-fighters that were going to operate from a U.S. military base in Colombia. The plots are such a hot topic in Venezuela that Ultimas Noticias newspaper has put out an interactive graphic to track them.
Even more prevalent than assassination threats are acts of economic “sabotage” that have been blamed for such problems as power blackouts, and chronic shortages of chicken and toilet paper. Since mid-April, Maduro’s press office has sent out at least 144 communiques that mention “sabotage.”