Reposted with permission from The Pan-American Post
Venezuela’s attorney general has announced that María Corina Machado will be charged in association with an alleged plot to kill President Nicolás Maduro, making her the latest Venezuelan opposition figure to face questionable and seemingly politically-motivated charges.
As El Nacional reports, yesterday the office of state prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz announced that Machado had been ordered to appear before authorities on December 3 to face charges “for alleged links with the assassination plan against the President of the Republic.” El Universal notes that six other well-known opposition figures have been linked to the case by prosecutors, including former U.N. Ambassador Diego Arria, ex-governor of Carabobo state Henrique Salas Römer and constitutional lawyer Gustavo Tarre Briceño.
The charges ostensibly stem from vague allegations first made in May by heavyweights in the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV). As “evidence” of a supposed coup plot, these officials presented private emails between the opposition figures featuring critical remarks about the Maduro administration. One of the messages highlighted by Chavista leaders featured Machado telling Tarre that current U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker had “reconfirmed his support and indicated new steps.” Yet despite the alarmist claims by government officials, there seemed to be little to no incriminating evidence in the emails.
For her part, Machado has consistently denied any wrongdoing and claims that these charges are retaliation for demanding that the leadership of the current National Electoral Council be replaced, a major issue ahead of the 2015 legislative elections.
Should the case move forward, it is hard to believe that it will not have repercussions for Venezuela’s image abroad. Machado has made a name for herself internationally as a leading critic of the Maduro government by speaking out against the loss of her legislative immunity before the Organization of American States (OAS) earlier this year. At the very least, a high-profile court case against Machado — on top of the highly questionable trial against Leopoldo Lopez — would add fuel to the growing calls in the U.S. for targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials.
And while U.S. President Barack Obama has been unwilling to expand sanctions in the past, he appears to have adjusted this position. Just last week Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken, plainly signaled a willingness to work with lawmakers by “moving forward with additional sanctions.”
Read more at The Pan-American Post…