CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez accused a fugitive TV tycoon on Saturday of being involved in a $100 million reward offer for his assassination.
Idolized by supporters among Venezuela’s poor but loathed by many in the business class, former soldier Chavez, 56, has frequently alleged plans to kill him during his more than 11 years at the helm of the South American oil-producer.
“As I understand it from very trustworthy information, they say they have $100 million to give the person who kills me,” Chavez said, talking of his political foes in general.
He accused the fugitive boss of pro-opposition TV station Globovision, Guillermo Zuloaga, of being one of those behind the plan. Zuloaga fled to the United States earlier this year after being charged with fraud over his car dealership.
“He’s one of them and he’s the owner of a station that is transmitting right now in Venezuela,” Chavez said in comments to reporters at a “socialist” fair in Caracas to offer cheap food and Christmas presents.
“He’s going around conspiring against the government, and they’re all collecting money to pay the person who kills me,” Chavez said, urging action against Zuloaga.
He did not give any more details of the alleged plot.
Detractors say the leftist firebrand, who has become Washington’s leading critic in Latin America, exaggerates talk of assassination plots and launches constant tirades against the United States as a way to bolster support at home.
But his supporters are convinced there is a real risk of his being killed due to the depth of hatred for him by Venezuela’s former ruling elite and others.
Reporting by Deisy Buitrago, Writing by Andrew Cawthorne, Editing by Sandra Maler
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