The (almost) assassination of Hugo Chávez

Nicolás Maduro, acting president of Venezuela, reveals a shocker: Back in 2006, there was a foiled assassination attempt on the life of President Chávez. It was hardly the first; the coup of ’02 also counts as one, since Chavecito was nearly killed then, during his illegal imprisonment on La Orchila, and only the consciences of the young soldiers sent to shoot him prevented that. They realized the enormity of the guilt that would rest on them if they killed their democratically elected leader, and refused to shoot.

Maduro reveals that the latter incident took place in August 2006, when he himself had just newly been designated foreign minister. Chavecito was on a visit to Damascus, Syria, as part of a peace and solidarity tour of the Arab countries, accompanied by several of his cabinet ministers. All was in readiness for the next leg of his journey, to Beirut, Lebanon. Then, as the group was on its way to the airport, there came a surprising piece of news from the intelligence services of several (unnamed) governments: Someone (also unnamed) was planning to blow up the presidential plane, with the president and his ministers in it. Chavecito decided to delay the visit to Lebanon until the plane was secured.

This information has never been revealed to the public until now, and it is an indicator of just how much in peril the Venezuelan president’s life was, throughout his reign. It makes all the more likely the possibility, soon to be subject to an investigation, that his recent death was no accident either.

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