CARACAS - Venezuela’s government announced it would hold a massive march Tuesday against U.S. meddling after reports that U.S. officials met secretly with Venezuelan military officers to discuss plans to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
The United States “acknowledges having met at least three times with military coup leaders to carry out a coup,” said Diosdado Cabello, speaker of the ruling Constituent Assembly that runs the country.
At an event by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Cabello also drew a direct connection with the drone explosions on Aug.4 at a military parade Maduro was leading.
“The presidential assassination that was stopped was led by the United States. Is there anyone who has any doubt?” Cabello asked.
U.S. officials decided against taking action after the meetings, according to The New York Times. The newspaper did not, however, link these discussions to the exploding drones case.
On Twitter, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said it was “absolutely unacceptable and unjustifiable that U.S. government officials participate in meetings to encourage and promote violent actions of extremists.”
Diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the United States have been tense since the late former socialist President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. He was president until his death in 2013.
Both Chavez and Maduro, his successor, have accused Washington of dozens of alleged conspiracies and assassination attempts.
The Trump administration calls Maduro a “dictator” and has been critical of the government in the midst of the serious Venezuelan crisis. It has imposed financial sanctions on Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA.
Venezuela also accuses the United States of spurring on its emigration crisis to embarrass Caracas, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves but is in full economic collapse.