New US plot against Venezuela alleged

Venezuela has alleged there is a new plot backed by the US to destabilise the left-wing government of President Hugo Chavez in the lead-up to the December 3 presidential elections. According to independent polls, Chavez has a huge lead over opposition candidate Manuel Rosales.

The US government, which has long opposed the Chavez government, has funnelled millions of dollars to groups that are campaigning for Rosales in the elections (as well as supporting a 2002 coup attempt against Chavez — which Rosales also supported).

On October 25, reported that the National Electoral Commission (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena had condemned what she called the beginning of a campaign to "sabotage the democratic political process", in the wake of an attack on the home of a leading CNE official. The same day, Chavez warned of destabilisation efforts and an assassination plot against him (Chavez had reported a failed assassination attempt against him in September). reported that Lina Ron, head of the pro-Chavez Popular Venezuelan Union party condemned a destabilisation plan entitled "Operation Red Sunrise", which she said involved opposition plans to sabotage the elections through the manipulation of the polls followed by violent post-election street demonstrations against supposed electoral fraud. Cuban newspaper Granma reported that as part of "Operation Red Sunrise", on November 9 "extremist sections" of the pro-US opposition publicly called for violent protests to take place the day after the elections with the aim of overthrowing the government.