That is the claim made by Acting President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, who served as vice president under the late president, Hugo Chavez.
Maduro claims that the US is plotting to assassinate the opposition candidate for president, Henrique Capriles Radonski, who polls suggest has almost no chance to win, and then pin the blame on the Venezuelan government. This, Maduro asserts, will bring about the kind of instability and public protest that the US has encouraged numerous times from the Color Revolutions to the Arab Spring.
It is the kind of claim that sends conspiracy theorists into a feeding frenzy and also allows US government spokesmen to deny the claims with a snicker, knowing how kooky the claimant is made to appear.
Even though it sounds far fetched, Maduro singles out two men he claims are behind these plans, Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, who are well known in Latin America for their decades of dirty work there on behalf of the US government. Reich was recruited by the CIA when he was still in university and went on to play a key role in numerous covert actions and propaganda campaigns, including the Iran-Contra scandal, during which time he churned out propaganda aimed at Americans as head of the State Department's notorious Office of Public Diplomacy.
As detailed in the George Washington University's always fascinating National Security Archive, his transgressions against rule of law and decency are legion. One example:
A staff report by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (September 7, 1988) summarized various investigations of Mr. Reich's office and concluded that "senior CIA officials with backgrounds in covert operations, as well as military intelligence and psychological operations specialists from the Department of Defense, were deeply involved in establishing and participating in a domestic political and propaganda operation run through an obscure bureau in the Department of State which reported directly to the National Security Council rather than through the normal State Department channels…. Through irregular sole-source, no-bid contracts, S/LPD established and maintained a private network of individuals and organizations whose activities were coordinated with, and sometimes directed by, Col. Oliver North as well as officials of the NSC and S/LPD. These private individuals and organizations raised and spent funds for the purpose of influencing Congressional votes and U.S. domestic news media. This network raised and funneled money to off-shore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands or to the secret Lake Resources bank account in Switzerland for disbursement at the direction of Oliver North. Almost all of these activities were hidden from public view and many of the key individuals involved were never questioned or interviewed by the Iran/Contra Committees."
Reich should have been in jail. Instead he moved back into a position of prominence and importance in the George W. Bush administration, where as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, he was in the center of the short-lived US-supported coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Reich is periodically forced to keep a low profile after his disastrous forays into violent interventionism and covert action and he has been more or less quiet since the "W" administration.
With Chavez dead and the possibility of more destabilization, Reich emerges from beneath the shadows to again begin whispering his seductive calls for US action. About those who are filling in until a new election takes place, Reich warns Obama in a recent interview:
“These guys are so tricky and so evil, quite frankly. The people in power in Venezuela today are evil.”
Given his ignominious role in the "dirty wars" of Latin America, how much of a leap is it really from his dire warnings about Venezuela to...perhaps a little plan to rid Venezuela of evil?
On Twitter @DanielLMcAdams