The Venezuelan president says Mexico and Colombia are working hand in glove with the US spy agency CIA in an American “plot” to overthrow the legitimate government in Caracas.
In a televised interview on Monday, Nicolas Maduro sought explanations from the Colombian and Mexican governments about recent comments by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who said recently that he had held talks in Mexico City and Bogota on the Venezuela issue.
Pompeo told a briefing earlier this month, “We are very hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there.”
According to Maduro, “The director of the CIA has said, ‘The CIA and the US government work in direct collaboration with the Mexican government and the Colombian government to overthrow the constitutional government in Venezuela and to intervene in our beloved Venezuela.’”
“I demand the government of Mexico and the government of Colombia to properly clarify the declarations from the CIA and I will make political and diplomatic decisions accordingly before this audacity,” he added.
Maduro further accused the governments in Mexico and Colombia of working with the US to protect their oil interests.
The Mexican government has denied the allegations.
The Maduro administration has come under intense pressure by the opposition and its foreign allies, particularly the US, ahead of a July 30 referendum to form a constituent assembly.
The so-called National Constituent Assembly would have the powers to rewrite the constitution and dissolve government institutions. Maduro says the assembly is needed to end political tensions in the country and has vowed to go ahead with the election despite a US threat to tighten its anti-Caracas bans.
The opposition has called on its supporters to boycott the upcoming vote.
In another development opposition leader Henrique Capriles and opposition group Penal Forum reported Monday that lawyer Angel Zerpa, who was chosen by the opposition-controlled congress in defiance of the government as one of the judges in a shadow Supreme Court, has been charged with treason in a military court.
Zerpa, who has been in detention since Saturday, has gone on a hunger strike, Penal Forum director Alfredo Romero added.
The opposition groups claim the real Supreme Court supports the president of Venezuela.
Maduro had warned earlier that the magistrates chosen by the opposition-controlled congress last week for the shadow Supreme Court would be arrested.
“They are all going to jail, one by one,” he vowed.
So far, Zerpa is the only one known to have been arrested among the 33 magistrates.
The opposition blames the leftist government for the country’s ailing economy.
It held a symbolic vote against Maduro on July 16, demanding conventional free elections, including for a new president. The opposition claimed more than seven million people out of the 31 million population took part.
Venezuela has recently been the scene of intense protests, which broke out after the Supreme Court stripped the opposition-controlled parliament of its powers in April.
The decision was revoked later, but tensions have continued unabated. More than 100 people have so far died.
Maduro blames the US for the unrest in the Latin American country.