CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela’s government released a recording on Wednesday of a well-known opposition lawmaker apparently criticizing the head of the opposition coalition and accusing him of meeting U.S. officials to provoke a crisis in the OPEC nation.
In the latest of a string of secretly-made recordings that have roiled politics in the South American country in recent months, the new tape was of female legislator Maria Corina Machado talking to a local academic.
Machado admitted it was her voice on the tape, but said a private conversation had been illegally obtained and edited to give a false impression.
“They are taking a conversation of more than two hours, and taking it out of context, editing different phrases to change the context,” she told a news conference. “They are wrong, if they think they are going to blackmail us with illegal acts like these.” In the recording, Machado mentioned Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, head of the opposition coalition, and appeared to be discussing the opposition’s narrow loss to Nicolas Maduro in April’s presidential election.
“Aveledo has said to the (U.S.) State Department that the only way out of this is to provoke or to accentuate a crisis, a coup d’etat … or a process of tightening,” said Machado.
Maduro, who replaced late socialist leader Hugo Chavez after his death from cancer, constantly accuses the opposition of having a hidden, violent and pro-U.S. agenda including assassination and coup plots against him.