EL PAIS (Spain); TELESUR (Venezuela); REUTERS
WASHINGTON - Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez never tired of accusing the U.S. government of all types of nefarious deeds. His hand-picked successor, acting president Nicolas Maduro, is keeping up the tradition.
First, days after Chavez's death, Maduro accused Washington of somehow infecting "El Comandante" with his fatal cancer. Then, perhaps even more strangely, the interim head of state said Sunday that there was a murder plot to kill Henrique Capriles, his own opponent in next month's presidential race.
Speaking on state TV station Telesur, Maduro even accused former US Ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich and former Bush Administration official Roger Noriega of the supposed plot, in order to “fill Venezuelans with hate” ahead of the April 14 election.
On Thursday, Reich, who is now a Washington-based international consultant, fired back with an open letter published in top Spanish daily El Pais. “Dear Mr Maduro, I’m responding to your most recent allegations. Don’t worry, this is not a threat to you; you’re making things up and what follows is my response to them,” the letter reads. “No, Mr Maduro, I did not have anything to do with with the cancer that killed Hugo Chávez, nor do I have any intention to assault Mr. Henrique Capriles (nor any other citizen of your country). These allegations by you can only have two explanations: either you don’t know the truth or you don’t know how to tell the difference between the truth and lies. You tell me which it is.”
[rebelmouse-image 27086542 alt="""" original_size="179x249" expand=1]
Otto Reich. Photo by US State Dept.
Reich suggests that these accusations were made because Maduro wanted to distract his country from the disasters that his party has subjected the country to over the last 14 years.
“Your accusations are so far from reality that we must ask what is their true purpose -- what are you hiding behind this smokescreen? Could it be that your government is planning to eliminate Capriles, as others who have challenged your monopoly have been?”
Reich writes that Maduro’s tactics echo those Chavez employed over the years. “Every day that you make these accusations is another day that Venezuelans don’t hear that there is a viable alternative for peace, honor and prosperity for their country.”
Full text of letter in Spanish here, published by El Pais