It seems as if somebody has finally had enough of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, as president Nicolas Maduro was the apparent target of an assassination attempt by drone Saturday night. If there was a drone attack at all, that is.
As he delivered a speech at an Army commemoration event, government officials and at least one journalist have reported that several drones packed with C4 explosives were detonated in an apparent attempt to harm Maduro. A video has emerged of the president and his wife, Cilia Flores, looking to the sky. The video then cuts to an aerial shot of aligned members of the Bolivarian National Guard dispersing away from a location where some sort of projectile seemingly struck.
Though some, including firefighters at the scene, have claimed that there was no assassination attempt at all.
It’s important to keep in mind that the official version of events came initially from the Venezuelan Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodriguez. There are few regimes currently in power with a weaker record on transparency or state-sanctioned propaganda than the Chavez/Maduro regimes in Venezuela. Events as old as the Reichstag and as recent as Turkey’s potentially staged coup attempt on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan illustrate that the possibility of some kind of false flag of convenience cannot be ruled out in the instance of the apparent attack on Maduro.
With that in mind, there are plenty of parties who would relish the sight of a deceased Maduro, the majority of Venezuelan people included. Once stories of babies being delivered on hospital floors and families eating their own pets have been digested, the world’s initial shock at how dire the situation in Venezuela is has a seemingly diminished. But even though we may not pay the continual attention that we should to life in Venezuela, the situation has continued to deteriorate.
The Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar, has become more useful as toilet paper than currency, with hyperinflation out of control and the country enduring a dire scarcity of actual toilet paper. Even if the Venezuelan dollar wasn’t losing any semblance of value at a rapid clip, food and medicine are also extremely difficult to come by, and the socialistic national system means that, black market aside, your spot in a line, not any valuables you may have, dictates whether you will be able to eat or take much-needed medicine on a given day. Life in Venezuela has long been hell. Now, the country is simply spiraling to ever-lower Circles.
So, one can see why Maduro would be under great threat. Without access to firearms, members of the Venezuelan civilian population may have concocted a way to get their hands on drones and fashioned explosives that they hoped would fall in the vicinity of the President. Assuming that the attempt was legitimate and not staged by the Maduro regime, the failure to even injure the President – only a reported seven National Guard members were hurt – would suggest that the perpetrators weren’t of the professional sort.
Aside from the country’s implosion and Maduro being the most obvious recipient of blame for Venezuelans’ misery, his presence in relatively close proximity could be used as an indicator that the attack was not staged, though no possibility can be ruled out at this point. As a counterexample, those suspicious of Turkey’s alleged coup point to Erdogan being far from harm’s way, as well as a seemingly well-coordinated purge of public officials and political opponents when citing reason for skepticism.
These considerations bring us again to a central question: who would be behind the assassination attempt of president Nicolas Maduro?
Some, including Maduro himself, were quick to point the finger at America, if only tangentially. Maduro has not been shy about his paranoia that the United States would somehow inject themselves to remove him from power, and an assassination attempt by drone would not fall outside of the U.S. playbook.
According to a Reuters report, Maduro has already begun blaming his political opponents, some of whom apparently live in the United States.
‘Maduro said “everything points” to a right-wing plot that initial investigation suggested was linked to Colombia and the U.S. state of Florida, where many Venezuelan exiles live. Several perpetrators were caught, he said, without elaborating.’ (Reuters)
Maduro has called on President Trump to help ‘fight’ those groups.
Regardless of the veracity of Maduro’s claims, it is highly unlikely that there was any formal involvement by the United States. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton unequivocally denied any involvement by the United States in the attack, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed that sentiment. It also seems that, if the U.S. had genuinely attempted to harm Maduro, the attack would have been conducted effectively. Such a relatively meek deployment of drone technology which failed so miserably seems highly unlikely to be the work of the U.S. military.
Some also believe that the ‘two explosions’ said to have been heard during the reported attack could be the result of something other than some form of drone strike. There is apparently no footage of any aerial activity available, and the manner in which the crowds dispersed is reminiscent of many terror attacks where an explosive device has been detonated at ground-level. In fact, firefighters on the ground have claimed that it was a gas tank explosion, not drones, that caused injuries and panic.
The narrative that a relatively obscure group, the “National Movement of Soldiers in T-Shirts”, has claimed responsibility for the attack, coupled with their insistence that they will again attempt to strike Maduro, could be used as justification by Maduro to further consolidate his power, if that is even possible in a one-party dictatorship.
“We demonstrated that they are vulnerable. We didn’t have success today, but it’s just a question of time,” said the group, which says it was founded in 2014 to bring together all of Venezuela’s “groups of resistance.” (Reuters)
The arrests that have been reported mean little to nothing in terms of determining whether the attack was truly an assassination attempt, a staged attack, or an accident that is being utilized for political gain. Anybody who Maduro accuses and/or arrests is almost certain to be a political opponent in a nation filled with them. The Venezuelan attempt is likely going to be a story that is not definitively settled, but one that is certain to be exploited by a ruthless dictator regardless of the truth.