Chavez warns of plans to destabilize Venezuela

MERIDA, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has warned of new plans to destabilize the country after the national referendum set for next Sunday, Dec. 2. He also said he has new evidence of attempts to assassinate him and called on the Venezuelan people to be on alert for any subversive actions in the coming week.

In a speech in the western state of Zulia on Nov. 25, the Venezuelan president called on his supporters to watch out for any “perverse plan” of the opposition after the likely victory of the constitutional reform on Dec. 2.

Chavez warned that sectors of the political opposition are trying to use preliminary surveys to put the victory of the reform in doubt, and to later claim fraud when the official results do not coincide with the polls.

The Venezuelan president said that if the reform is approved in the national referendum, the opposition will claim that the elections were fraudulent and call people into the streets to generate violence and to destabilize the country.

“They try to make Venezuelans and the world have doubts, repeating surveys and manipulated numbers, so that when we win on Sunday, as I am sure we will, then they can say that there was fraud, that the election was stolen, and they will come out into the streets,” he said.

Chavez reminded supporters that sectors of the opposition have used this strategy to manipulate public opinion before, using false survey numbers to create the image of fraudulent elections. He called on the country to be prepared for any kind of manipulation.

“The population, the armed forces, the organized communities — we all must be on alert and prepared,” he said. “We have to be ready for any perverse plan from those fascist sectors that still exist in Venezuela, which in the likely case of a victory for the reform could come out into the streets with the intention of destabilizing the country.”

Sectors from the Venezuelan opposition have called on their supporters to take to the streets if they lose the national referendum due to fraud.

The opposition group Comando Nacional de la Resistencia (CNR) called for a “March of No Return” on the presidential palace this week, a route that has not been used by the opposition since the 2002 coup that resulted in dozens killed and temporarily overthrew the Chavez government. The march was called for Nov. 26, but was then postponed until after the upcoming referendum.

“The ‘March of No Return’ will not be Monday the 26th, and probably not Tuesday the 27th, but be sure that it will happen if they commit the fraud that they have organized for December 2nd,” said CNR member Hermann Escarrá.

Escarrá explained that the March of No Return will be an organized event of many simultaneous marches around the country that could be of varying duration and intensity. He promised that the opposition would march on the presidential palace in Caracas in the case of fraud in the referendum, and that they would engage in active resistance in the streets.

“We aren’t going to send the people out on a useless cause, with a high cost of lives and casualties like happened on April 11th [2002, the attempted coup d’etat]. Be prepared rather for December 2nd or 3rd. You can be sure that when there is fraud, all the people will be in the street, and the CNR will be at the vanguard of this process,” assured Escarrá.

President Chavez also said in his Zulia speech that he had new evidence of plans to assassinate him. In a televised interview with a group of journalists, the Venezuelan president explained that during a recent campaign event, the light of a laser pointer was seen shining on his body and head.

Chavez explained that after experts analyzed video of the event, they observed that the light moved up to his head and remained there for some time despite constant movement on the part of Chavez. For this reason, the analysts concluded that it was the work of an expert, possibly using a sniper rifle with a laser sight.

The president also stated that a Venezuelan embassy in Central America was recently informed of a plan to assassinate Chavez before the end of the year and that there is also evidence linking the Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to assassination plans.

The Cuban leader Fidel Castro has repeatedly warned of plans to assassinate the Venezuelan president and recently advised his Venezuelan counterpart to take more precautions in his public appearances.

“You have to keep fighting and running risks, but don’t play Russian roulette every day,” said Castro in a recent article.

According to Chavez, upon seeing the video of the laser light during their visit last week, Castro warned that it was proof of the Venezuelan president’s vulnerability to an assassination attempt.

Venezuelan authorities recently uncovered an arsenal of weapons upon raiding a residence in the Caracas area, including assault rifles, pistols, a machine gun, ammunition and U.S. military uniforms. Government authorities consider that these weapons may have been intended for use in a plan to create chaos in the country, or even an attempt to assassinate the president.

Chris Carlson writes for . This article was originally published there on Nov. 27.