Machado in March.
Opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado (C) speaks during a news conference in Caracas March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

A group of high-ranking lawmakers with the Socialist Party of Venezuela and loyalists to president Nicolás Maduro, including national assembly president Diosdado Cabello, first lady Cilia Flores, and an array of governors, mayors and ministers in the presidential cabinet made what El Pais called “the first grand accusation of [a plot for] assassination” on Wednesday night, claiming that two private emails from former opposition lawmaker María Corina Machado showed that she had planned a “coup plot” involving Maduro’s assassination. Reuters reports that one of the officials who announced the denunciations, Caracas district mayor Jorge Rodríguez, called the presentation “part of a criminal investigation."

The government also accused former US envoy to the Andean region (and current envoy to Colombia), Kevin Whitaker, of having helped plan Maduro’s murder, citing two passages in the emails sent to him from Machado. “This garbage has to be cleaned up starting with the head, taking advantage of the global climate in Ukraine and now in Thailand,” Machado tells the envoy in one dated May 23. In the second, according to Rodríguez, Machado says, “I think that the time has come to build strength, make the necessary call and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro, and the rest will face into place.”

Corina Machado was stripped of her seat in the national assembly in late March for accepting Panama’s offer to serve on behalf of the latter country at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), so that she could address representatives with regard to the government’s conduct toward protestors. On Wednesday she dismissed the accusations against her as a “clumsy scam” and repeated her calls for Maduro’s resignation. "I reaffirm it, Mr. Maduro, neither assassination nor coup. Step down.”

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