CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro canceled a trip to speak at the U.N. 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 Wednesday.
“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 the United States of inventing “thousands of excuses” for declining to authorize his transit through U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico last week.
The United States had information about the plots, Maduro said. The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I had to fulfill my maximum objective, to preserve my physical integrity, my life, and Venezuelan honor,” Maduro 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. airspace instead of the required three days.
Maduro said Wednesday 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.
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