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Venezuela vice president cites assassination plot

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:40 p.m.

CARACAS — Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday the government has uncovered a plot to assassinate him and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

“For some weeks we've been following groups that have infiltrated in the country and have the goal of trying to kill comrade Diosdado Cabello and me,” said Maduro, speaking to a crowd of government supporters.

“For that reason, they've said that we're fighting because their macabre and criminal move is to make attempts against our lives — something they won't achieve — and later on try to blame one or the other,” he added.

Maduro referred to the alleged plot after announcing that he would travel to Cuba with Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez to see the ailing President Hugo Chavez, who underwent cancer surgery more than six weeks ago. The vice president did not provide any evidence or say what sort of attacks the authorities believed to have been planned.

Maduro did not mention any arrests, but said: “Don't be surprised by the actions that will be taken in the coming days.”

A large contingent of police and troops with rifles stood guard while Maduro spoke at an outdoor rally in Caracas.

The vice president and Cabello have often appeared together while Chavez has remained out of sight in Cuba after the operation. Speculation about potential divisions between the two men has arisen, but they have repeatedly insisted they are working together and united.

Maduro said Chavez has gone through a difficult recovery process after the Dec. 11 surgery, and that now “he's on the path to a new phase.”

Later Cuban state television showed Maduro arriving in Havana and being greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Chavez, who was re-elected to another six-year term in October, has not appeared or spoken publicly since he left for Havana on Dec. 10.

Government officials have said the 58-year-old president is improving after suffering complications, including a severe respiratory infection, but they have not provided specific details about his health.

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