Venezuela to try lawmakers for failed Maduro drone attack

Venezuela’s all-powerful constituent assembly is launching proceedings on Wednesday to try opposition lawmakers over a failed “attack” on President Nicolas Maduro, who also accused exiled opposition leader Julio Borges.

Constituent Assembly chief Diosdado Cabello called the session to strip the lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity so they could face trial for the alleged and failed bid to kill the president.

“When justice comes, it hits hard,” Cabello said.

Maduro and his government said the president had been targeted by two flying drones each carrying a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of powerful C-4 explosives.

But details of Saturday’s incident remain unclear, with conflicting information coming from various sources.


The Maduro administration said Colombia — including ex-president Juan Manuel Santos, who ended his term Tuesday — had collaborated on the attack with the “ultra far-right” Venezuelan opposition, and it was financed by unnamed figures in the United States state of Florida.

No evidence was given to support the allegations, which have worsened already fraught ties between Caracas and Bogota.

In a television and radio address, Maduro simultaneously accused opposition legislator Juan Requesens and Borges of having plotted a drone “assassination” attempt on the Socialist leader over the weekend.

The president said several raids were underway as part of investigations.

Borges is one of the most prominent figures of the Venezuelan opposition and like Requesens a member of the Primero Justicia (Justice First) party of former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

Primero Justicia said Requesens and his sister Rafaela were “arrested and hit” in a sweep by the SEBIN national intelligence service unit. Rafaela was later released.

“All the statements (of detained suspects) point to Julio Borges, who lives in a mansion in Bogota protected by the outgoing government of Colombia, we know he has the cowardice to participate in this type of events,” Maduro said.

He also railed against Requesens, describing him as one of his “craziest and most psychopathic” adversaries.

‘Increased political persecution’

Earlier, Requesens delivered a fiery speech in which he promised to keep pushing to get Maduro out of power.

“We are going to get Nicolas Maduro to leave in order to get out of this tragedy,” the 29-year-old politician said at the opposition-held legislature.

“We will be able to receive all Venezuelans who are crazy enough to return to the country, and for those of us who are here, we have no choice but to continue stretching this rope until it breaks and we can get Nicolas Maduro out.”

Shortly before the opposition crackdown, the legislature had demanded an impartial investigation into the drone explosions, and denounced the government’s efforts to use the event to “increase political persecution” of the opposition.

“We reaffirm that Venezuelans’ political struggle must focus… on obtaining free and fair elections with full democratic conditions under international observation,” added the declaration read in the semi-circular chamber.

The Constituent Assembly loyal to Maduro moved to May the presidential election usually held in December, leading to Maduro’s election until 2025.

But the opposition and much of the international community rejected the results as illegitimate.

On Monday, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said several suspects were in custody and authorities would track down “all those who conspire against public peace.”

He called the drone attack, in which seven soldiers were said to be wounded, “an attempted massacre.”

Interior Minister Nicolas Reverol said Sunday that six suspects had been arrested.

No drones could be seen in the broadcast of the event, which was cut moments after the soldiers were seen scattering away from where Maduro was standing flanked by military chiefs and his wife.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Agency
External source

Related stories

Firestorms: How Australia’s bushfires created their own weather

During Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, lightning strikes caused new fires up to 100 kilometres away from the original blaze

Uganda police arrest pop-star MP Bobi Wine, teargas supporters

Having already been detained a number of times, the singer who looks set to challenge President Museveni in the 2021 elections has been arrested

Iraq parliament demands US troop ouster after Soleimani killing

Ties have deteriorated after an American precision drone strike killed Iran's Major General Qasem Soleimani

Latin America marches sideways

Growth has slowed, which will increase poverty and fuel further social unrest, which in turn will push leaders to the political centre

Sudan sentences Omar al-Bashir to two years for corruption

The former president is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict

Rubber bullets well past their sell-by date

Police must distinguish between those acting violently and other protesters when using force
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Zuma maintains his true colours at Zondo commission

The former president’s escapades at the commission of inquiry into state capture are a far cry from Nelson Mandela’s response when summonsed to testify in the high court

Gordhan tells Zondo how Moyane wanted to advance the objectives...

The public enterprises minister is being cross-examined by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry, as both men seek to defend their reputations

Burundian refugees in Tanzania face increasing danger

Human Rights Watch has documented cases of Burundian refugees being tortured and forcibly returned by Tanzanian authorities

Exclusive: Top-secret testimonies implicate Rwanda’s president in war crimes

Explosive witness testimony from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda implicates Paul Kagame and the RPF in mass killings before, during and after the 1994 genocide.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…