September 11, 2008
CARACAS -- President Hugo Chávez has ordered an investigation into a purported plot to assassinate him and topple his government.
Chávez said late Wednesday that his government eavesdropped on a group of conspirators who considered blowing up the presidential jet or bombing the presidential palace.
Chávez ordered his defense minister to investigate the alleged conspiracy involving a vice admiral from his inner circle and other former military officers.
''Evidently, there's a conspiracy,'' Chávez said on state television, according to a government statement. ``We've been following this for some time.''
As of Thursday morning, no one was detained in the case, Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami said.
Chávez ally Mario Silva, who hosts a program on state television, played a recording late Wednesday of a purported phone conversation in which alleged conspirators discussed plans to overthrow Chávez.
Silva said Vice Admiral Carlos Millan was among them, along with two other ex-officers from the National Guard and the air force.
In the recording aired, a voice identified as an ex-officer said ''we're going to take'' the presidential palace.
Chávez survived a 2002 failed coup and often has accused opponents of trying to oust him again.
The former paratroop commander said the conspirators have been ``looking for ground-to-air missiles . . . to try to blow up the presidential plane . . . or bomb the [presidential] palace with a plane.''
Chávez called his opponents ''little Yankees'' and said they are following orders from Washington.
He has repeatedly accused President Bush's administration of backing coup plots. American officials deny it.