Venezuelan opposition leader charged in presidential assassination plot to appear before court

Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado said Thursday she will continue working toward peaceful regime change in Venezuela even as she complies with an order to face charges of plotting to kill the president.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor on Wednesday ordered the former congresswoman to appear in court Dec. 3 on charges of participating in a U.S.-backed plot to assassinate socialist President Nicolas Maduro — allegations she denies.

Machado, 47, told a group of journalists that the charges are further evidence that the administration has become a dictatorship and said the charges may have been retribution for demanding the resignation of national election council leaders earlier on Wednesday.

"Maduro is trying to bring chaos to Venezuela, and we have to stop him," she said.

Together with fellow opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, Machado called tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets to protest the government earlier this year. The strategy brought them into conflict with more moderate opposition leaders who were advocating gradual electoral change.

Lopez was arrested nine months ago for his role in the sometimes violent protests. He turned himself in during an emotional public event.

It's unclear whether Machado will take a similar path, should the state move to detain her. She is the only opposition leader implicated in the purported plot still living in Venezuela.

The government barred Machado from leaving the country in June, shortly after the ruling party stripped her of her seat in Congress. She says airlines will not sell her even domestic tickets.

Asked about her plans directly, she said she cannot be arrested because she has committed no crime.

"For Venezuelans, it's clear there is no crime, so how are they going to detain me," she said.


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