On Saturday of last week, President Maduro of Venezuela survived an assassination attempt via drone. Several drones carrying explosives reportedly flew in Maduro’s direction while he gave a speech to celebrate the Venezuelan National Guard’s 81st anniversary. The event took place in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. While Maduro was not injured in the attempt, seven members of the national guard sustained injuries.
Although this may appear as a clear act of terror, the source and motivations of this incident are unclear. Video of Maduro giving the speech in Caracas confirms that while he was speaking, a loud bang went off, and everyone looked up. From there, according to CNN, Venezuelan Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez claimed that the explosions came from “drone-type flying devices.”
Maduro addressed Venezuelans following the attempt. In his national address, Maduro blamed the far-right of Venezuela and Colombia, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, as well as Venezuelans in America. He then went on to claim that the initial investigation was very successful, and that some involved in the attempt have already been arrested. Evidence supporting the charges was cited by Maduro, but he never elaborated on this nor did he provide the specific evidence. Maduro also expressed hopes that the Trump administration would aid in Venezuela’s fight against terror.
Bogota undoubtedly shot down Maduro’s claims as “baseless,” according to BBC. Maduro has previously used Colombia as a scapegoat for attacks, which makes it difficult to determine who’s crying wolf. BBC testimony from a youth leader of the opposition Voluntad Popular Party gives additional insight. Hasler Inglesias told reporters that the opposition was completely unaware of the attack, despite Maduro’s accusations. Amid all this confusion, a little-known group called “Soldiers in Tshirts,” claimed the attack online.
To complicate things even more, there may be evidence that there was no assassination attempt at all. According to The Verge, firefighters at the scene have anonymously disputed the Venezuelan government’s recollection of the event. They claim the explosion heard in the video resulted from a gas leak in a nearby apartment building. Additionally, US National Security Advisor John Bolton speculated on Fox News Sunday that this may have been an inside job, while also confirming zero US involvement. There is additional speculation about the attempt among Venezuelans, but limited freedom of press makes it difficult for dissenting opinions to be heard.
This attempt places a significant concern for human rights in Venezuela. Maduro has previously violated the rights of citizens across the country, and many believe he may have fabricated this event to justify another crackdown on his opponents. The mystery of this assassination attempt, as well as its implications, cannot be resolved until the Venezuelan government releases the strong evidence it claims to have collected. A government has an obligation of transparency to its citizens, and Venezuela must follow through on its claims if Maduro hopes to be taken seriously by the international community.
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