The Miami Herald
October 04, 2007
President Hugo Chávez accused the United States of trying to spur a military rebellion, saying the CIA is behind the distribution of leaflets inside army barracks calling for his ouster.
Speaking to dozens of army officers at Venezuela's largest military base, Chavez on Wednesday urged soldiers to resist calls for a coup from ''oligarchs and their imperialist masters,'' a reference to the United States.
''They will always try to divide us and confuse us, to weaken us, and thereby dominate us,'' said Chávez, who weathered a short-lived coup in 2002.
Noting that leaflets calling for a rebellion have been circulating in army barracks recently, he said: ``That's why they have the CIA.''
State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper declined to comment on Chávez's statements. The Venezuelan leader has accused opposition leaders and U.S. officials of involvement in coup-related plots many times before, and both have repeatedly denied them.
Government opponents argue Chávez uses repeated warnings of alleged uprisings to divert public attention from domestic problems such as soaring crime or his proposed constitutional reforms that would abolish limits on reelection.
There have been no signs of discontent within Venezuela's military since the 2002 coup, which was led by dissident generals who accused Chávez of ordering soldiers to shoot anti-government protesters. Chávez denies the accusations.
Chávez himself led a botched coup as an army lieutenant colonel in 1992, arguing that widespread corruption warranted ousting then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez. More than 80 civilians and 17 soldiers were killed before troops loyal to Perez quelled the short-lived putsch.