December 1, 2005

Chavez charges U.S. plot before Venezuela vote

By Patrick Markey

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez on Thursday accused U.S. President George W. Bush of
trying to destabilize his government by engineering an
opposition boycott of a December 4 legislative vote.

"Another conspiracy has been activated against Venezuela
and I am not going to blame the dogs but the masters, the
government of the United States," Chavez said.

"The one responsible for this conspiracy is the head of the
empire: Mr. Danger. To give him his proper name, Mr. George W.
Bush," he said in a late-night address.

The Venezuelan repeated accusations the CIA was probing his
security detail to try to assassinate him, but gave no proof.

Chavez, a self-described socialist revolutionary at odds
with Washington, made his charges after opposition parties
announced a boycott of the weekend vote they fear will be
manipulated by electoral authorities biased toward the

Washington denies charges from Chavez that U.S. officials
are plotting his overthrow or assassination. They say he has
eroded democracy by controlling institutions such as the courts
and the election council that oversees ballots.

U.S. officials say Chavez is trying to stir nationalist
sentiment to mobilize his power base among the poor.

Earlier on Thursday, several thousand government workers
waving flags joined political party militants chanting, "The
people are going to vote," as they marched through Caracas to
the council to show support for Chavez.

"Those who don't vote are sucking up to Bush. Go Home
Gringo," read one protest banner.

Most polls showed pro-Chavez lawmakers would increase their
slim majority in the 167-seat chamber. But the opposition
boycott will likely allow them to secure at least a two-thirds
majority they need to push through constitutional changes.