(Shorter versions of this chronology were previously published in the blog Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights here)
These first couple of posts will bring the chronology up to date. Here I start from March 2013, right after Chávez´s passing, and close in mid-April (Presidential elections were held on April 14). The main theme of this period was the famous “inoculated cancer” theory by Maduro, according to which Chávez would have been a victim of poisoning. But also notable was the revelation by the Government of a “mercenaries plot” of central American assassins that would attempt to murder Maduro, Capriles, Cabello, and also sabotage the economy, wreck the electric grid, create food shortages , increase homicide rates, and commit random crimes against the population.
March 5, Maduro expels two US attachés for “searching for active military personal in order to propose conspiratorial plans to them” (Aporrea)
March 5, Maduro, in the last public announcement before the passing of the President, suggests that Chávez was “inoculated” with cancer by foreign enemies. He afterwards insisted many times on this theory, originally proposed by Chávez himself when he was first diagnosed of cancer. On March 21 Maduro promised that after winning the elections, he would name a scientific commission in charge of investigating the issue.He also declares that “there are already a lot of articles on the internet on this. You only have to look them up. The Empire has created these types of experimental viruses since the 40s. They are methods of biological, bacteriological warfare.”
March 6, Maduro assures that there is a conspiracy led by Otto Reich and Roger Noriega to assassinate, not him, but the opposition candidate Capriles, with the purpose of destabilizing the government. On March 17, on a TV interview with José Vicente Rangel, Maduro insists on the existence of the plot. He announces that he has proofs of this plot and that he will make them public, but those proofs have never surfaced. Otto Reich denies the accusations.
March 20, Maduro Claims that the United States government has “ordered” the Venezuelan opposition to withdraw from the elections, generate “situations of violence”, and cry foul once the electoral results are public.
April 6, in an interview with Telesur, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua declares that “we have filtered, through our intelligence agencies, conversations from groups of the right referring to the inclusion of mercenaries from Central America in the destabilization activities in the country.”
April 5, in a meeting with supporters in Cojedes Maduro declares that the opposition “took down the electricity of all the poor areas of Aragua on Wednesday night. There is no technical justification for this, so we have dismissed the Corpoelec [State electricity company] of Aragua and he is under investigation, and all the public officials that plot against the people will go to prison.” Maduro also accuses the opposition of planning a total energy black out in the country.
April 7, during a public meeting in Guayana, Maduro denounces a plot of to kill him “generate chaos, and sabotage the electric grid”. He directly accused Armando Briquet, a top manager of the opposition campaign, of being the link between Capriles and “mercenaries sent by the right from El Salvador” that, according to Maduro, are already in Venezuela to carry out the plot. In these new plot denunciations, Maduro assures that at first he though Capriles was not directly responsible for the wide ranging conspiracies, and that he was only being duped by “sectors of the right” (indeed in the previous version of the “mercenaries plot” Capriles was considered the potential victim of assassination attempts). Now he claims to have been forced by his sources to realize that Capriles, through Briquet, is directly behind the plots.
April 8, Minister of Penitentiary Services, Iris Valera, denounces “a destabilization plan by a well-known NGO lead by someone called Humberto Prado.” This NGO would promote violence in Venezuela´s prisons in order to “rarefy” the electoral environment of the next days.
April 8, an opposition group of students protesting for “clean elections” in Chacao is violently attacked by motorbikes wearing pro-government paraphernalia. Six students are injured. Maduro immediately orders an investigation but offers his own theory of the events: “I have been informed of violent events in the Chacao Municipality, strange violent events involving a small violent group, financed by the government of the United States.”