The Venezuelan government released a recording that allegedly shows that one of the leaders head of the country’s opposition coalition discussed a possible coup with U.S. State Department officials.
On Wednesday morning the Minister of Communication and Information, Ernesto Villegas and Caracas mayor Jorge Rodriguez released an audio recording that they alleged showed opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado speaking to a Venezuelan academic, Germán Carrera Damas.
In the recording, Machado discusses the outcome of the April 14 presidential election. She states that the head of the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable’s (MUD) Ramon Guillermo Aveledo advocated for a “coup” or other destabilization plan to overthrow the Venezuelan government.
“Aveledo has told the (U.S.) State Department that the only way out of this is to provoke or to accentuate a crisis…a coup,” Machado said.
The legislator also states, “Jaua’s meeting with Kerry seems to me terrible.” On 5 June U.S. secretary of state John Kerry met with Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua at the request of the Venezuelan government. Following the meeting, both Kerry and Jaua stated that they had agreed to improve U.S.-Venezuelan relations.
In the recording, Carrera appears to agree with Machado, stating, “I saw it…I wanted to mourn.”
Machado continued the conversation by discussing her efforts to lobby for support in the U.S. government, though she says, “The State Department did not think this is serious.”
She further states that she intends to share “secure information” with Carrera by email, but states, “the last thing I want is for someone to see … I’m sending this email.”
“Why?” Carrera can be heard asking.
“I do not want to seem like I’m undermining, conspiring against Henrique [Capriles],” Machado responded. Capriles ran for presidency in the April 14 elections under the MUD coalition, and is currently the state governor of Miranda.
“Ah, against Henrique … but in any case I am conspiring with you,” Carrera can be heard saying to Machado.
When presenting the recording to Venezuelan media, Rodriguez stated that the material was handed to the him by an opposition activist, commenting that its content “violates the constitution in a terrifying way.”
Machado has confirmed that the voice in the conversation is hers, and admitted that she met with Carrera on a number of occasions to discuss “the scenarios facing the country.” However, she has also attacked the government’s decision to release the recording, describing it as an “illegal” act.
“This is evidence of a totalitarian regime,” she told Globovision’s Aló Ciudadano program. Machado also stated that the recording is an excerpt from a two hour conversation, and has been taken out of context.
“This is a typical Cuban intelligence process to terrify [and] intimidate,” she alleged, telling viewers that the recording is an attempt by the government to divide the opposition. Today, Capriles made similar statements, saying that the recording is intended to “generate intrigue and divide.” According to Capriles, the “audio says nothing.”
The release comes just over a month after an audio recording was released by the opposition, which opposition legislator Ismael Garcia claimed revealed that government officials including the head of the national assembly, Diosdado Cabello are engaged in corruption, and plotting against the president.
The opposition-released recording contained the voice of he pro-government journalist Mario Silva, who has described it as a “set-up.”
Venezuela’s attorney general is currently investigating the Silva recording.