CARACAS, Venezuela, June 4 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez emerged from four days out of the public's eye to claim he had been the target of an assassination plot.
The socialist South American leader said in a television appearance Tuesday night the plan was for a missile to be used to shoot down a plane that was to carry him to the inauguration of El Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes on Monday, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported Thursday. Chavez canceled his appearance at the ceremony.
Chavez went on to demand the United States extradite Luis Posada Carriles, who is accused of planting a bomb that brought down a Cuban aircraft bound for Havana in 1976, killing all 73 people. Posada Carriles previously lived in El Salvador.
Chavez, who has a history of alleging that senior officials in Washington have conspired to kill him and invade Venezuela, said he was sure people "left behind by Posada Carriles" in El Salvador had been involved in this week's purported plot.
"I'm not going to suspend a journey because of a simple rumor," he said.
"I realized that the journey had been put at risk, the information acquired characteristics of high credibility and we decided to suspend the flight."
Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Assaimi issued a statement Wednesday that authorities had disrupted a plot "of almost perfect planning" to kill the president.
Chavez called on U.S. President Barack Obama to send Posada Carriles to Venezuela.
"I'm not blaming Obama," he said of the alleged plot. "I believe that Obama has good intentions, but behind him there's an empire, the CIA and all its tentacles, terrorists and intelligence organizations. It's time to dismantle this machine of terror that the United States runs."