By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
CARACAS, Venezuela — An alleged assassination attempt on Venezuelan president, Nicholas Maduro, failed when drones reportedly armed with explosives detonated overhead as he was giving a speech at a military event in Caracas on Saturday afternoon.
In recently released footage from Reuters TV, Maduro, flanked by top military personnel as he was giving his remarks, is seen startled as the drone blasts went off during the middle of his speech.
Bodyguards and other armed services personnel are then seen rushing towards Maduro, covering him in bullet-proof jackets and sheets as they try to secure his safety.
No one was seriously injured or killed in the blast, but there were a few minor injuries to some military staff members on the parade.
Maduro claims that Colombian nationals, along with plotters backed by Americans living in South Florida, are behind the attack, without giving any further explanation or details.
A little-known group called the National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts has claimed responsibility for the attack. In a series of posts on social media, the group said it planned to fly two drones but snipers shot them down.
The group also claimed on one of their social media pages that they have “demonstrated that they (the Venezuelan government) are vulnerable. We didn’t have success today, but it’s just a question of time.”
Maduro, in the light of the group already claiming responsibility, has also since the attack urged US President Donald Trump and the Trump administration in general to stand up against these “terrorist” organisations in the US that are set on destabilizing Venezuela.
US national security adviser, John Bolton, went on record on Fox News on Sunday denying any American involvement in the assassination attempt on Maduro, claiming “unequivocally there is no US government involvement in this at all,” and that “It could be a lot of things from a pretext set up by the Maduro regime itself to something else”.
Bolton also challenged Maduro and Venezuelan officials to present any evidence or information to support their claim of US involvement and said that American officials will certainly follow it up.
Al Jazeera reported that a government source in Colombia also called Maduro’s claims of Colombian collusion in the attack “absurd”, as Maduro referenced the name of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos being behind the attack from the capital city of Bogota.
Addressing Venezuelan television on Saturday evening after the failed assassination attempt later, Maduro claimed authorities have arrested several persons suspected in the plot and have gathered key pieces of initial evidence in the probe.
Last year, after a constitutional referendum that many felt was rigged and flawed in favour of the Maduro regime, a June helicopter attack on Supreme Court compound and other government offices in Caracas was carried outby a lone military officer in protest of the outcome.
Prior to the helicopter attack, some 30-odd Venezuelan armed services officers were arrested after a failed coup against the Maduro regime, by attacking strategic military bases in addition to the presidential palace, prior to his re-election on May 20, 2017.
The plot, code-named Operation Constitution, involved scores of captains, colonels, and generals, both men and women, from all four branches of Venezuela’s armed forces, many of whom were detained by Maduro forces and charged with treason and imprisoned by a military court.
Maduro also blamed US and Colombian officials for the failed 2017coup. Bloomberg News reported on last year’s foiled attack that some of the planning took place in Bogotá, Columbia and also claimed that US officials who allegedly knew about the plot and turned the other way declined to provide active support for the operation.
by Youri Aramin Kemp, Caribbean News Now(Bahamas)
August 5, 2018