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Venezuela’s Maduro Cancels New York Trip on Alleged Threats

Venezuela’s Maduro Cancels New York Trip on Alleged Threats

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro canceled a trip to speak at the United Nations General Assembly’s annual gathering in New York because of what he called threats to his safety.

One of the alleged plots could have caused violence in New York and the other could have affected his physical safety, Maduro said in a national address carried on television and radio yesterday.

“The clan, the mafia of Otto Reich and Roger Noriega once again had planned a crazy, terrible provocation that can’t be described in any other way,” Maduro said, referring to two former U.S. officials he frequently accuses of plots against Venezuela.

Maduro, who returned to Venezuela yesterday from a state visit to China, said he learned of the plots from “various sources” during a stopover in Vancouver and decided to return to Caracas. The self-professed socialist accused of the U.S. of inventing “thousands of excuses” for declining to authorize his transit through U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico last week.

U.S. Response

“I had to fulfill my maximum objective, to preserve my physical integrity, my life, and Venezuelan honor,” Maduro said, alleging that the U.S. had information about the plots.

The U.S. rejects allegations of involvement in any plots to harm Venezuelan officials or to destabilize the Venezuelan government, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, who asked to not be identified citing policy, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. The Venezuelan government has made public allegations against the U.S. repeatedly and should pass along any evidence to authorities to be investigated, the spokesperson said.

The State Department said Sept. 20 that it granted Maduro’s request to pass through U.S. airspace en route to China from Venezuela after an “extraordinary effort” and that Venezuelan authorities had given one-day notice to use U.S. air space instead of the required three days.

Cuban Airplane

Maduro said yesterday that he traveled in a Cuban airplane because his presidential jet, manufactured by Airbus SAS, had problems after undergoing five months of maintenance in France. Venezuela is considering legal action against the European aviation company, Maduro said.

The State Department in March said claims by Venezuelan officials of U.S.-based plots to destabilize the South American country were “unsubstantiated and outlandish.”

Maduro, who won election in April after former President Hugo Chavez died in March, said in January that authorities uncovered a plot by opposition factions to assassinate him and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

(Updates with comment from U.S. Department of State in sixth paragraph.)