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Offline Palloy2

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The Venezuela thread
« on: May 20, 2018, 08:10:42 PM »
With a neat round-up of the other S. American countries

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/05/18/us-not-sitting-idly-by-on-eve-of-venezuelan-election/
The US Is "Meddling" In The Venezuelan Election
Roger Harris
05/20/2018

As Venezuelans go to the polls today, the U.S. is working to disrupt the re-election of Nicolas Maduro and rollback left-wing governments in the region...

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is the frontrunner in the presidential elections that will take place today. If past pronouncements and practice by the United States are any indication, every effort will be made to oust an avowed socialist from the the U.S. “backyard.”

This week, the leftist president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, tweeted:

    “Before the elections they (U.S. and allies) will carry out violent actions supported by the media and after the elections they will try a military invasion with Armed Forces from neighboring countries.”

U.S. antipathy towards the Venezuelan government started with the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998, followed by a brief and unsuccessful U.S.-backed coup in 2002. Chávez made the magnanimous, but politically imprudent, gesture of pardoning the golpistas, who are still trying to achieve by extra-parliamentary means what they have been unable to realize democratically. After Chávez died in 2013, the Venezuelans elected Maduro to carry on what has become known as the Bolivarian Revolution.

The Phantom Menace

In 2015 then U.S. President Barack Obama declared “a national emergency” because of a supposed Venezuelan threat to the U.S. The U.S. has military bases to the west of Venezuela in Colombia and to the east in the Dutch colonial islands. The Fourth Fleet patrols Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. Yet somehow in the twisted logic of imperialism, the phantom of Venezuela posed a menacing, “extraordinary threat” to the U.S.

Each year Obama renewed and deepened sanctions against Venezuela under the National Emergencies Act. Taking no chances that his successor might not be sufficiently hostile to Venezuela, Obama prematurely renewed the sanctions his last year in office even though the sanctions would not have expired until two months into Trump’s tenure.

The fear was that presumptive U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might try to normalize U.S. -Venezuelan relations to negotiate an oil deal between Venezuela and his former employer Exxon. As it turns out, the Democrats need not have feared Trump going soft on regime change.

Last August, Donald Trump publicly raised the “military option” to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically-elected government. Then David Smilde of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) counseled for regime change, not by military means, but by “deepening the current sanctions” to “save Venezuela.” The somewhat liberal, inside-the-beltway NGO argued against a direct military invasion because the Venezuelan military would resist, not because such an act is the gravest violation of international law.

Maduro: Phony threat to the U.S.

Meanwhile the sanctions have taken a punishing toll on the Venezuelan people, even causing death. Sanctions are designed, in Richard Nixon’s blood-curdling words, to “make the economy scream” so that the people will abandon their democratically elected government for one vetted by the U.S.

In January, Trump’s first State of the Union address called for regime change of leftist governments in Latin America, boasting, “My government has imposed harsh sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela.” Hearing these stirring words, both Democrats and Republicans burst out in thunderous applause.

“Dictatorships,” as the term is wielded by the U.S. government and mainstream media, should be understood as countries that try to govern in the interests of their own peoples rather than privileging the dictates of the U.S. State Department and the prerogatives of international capital.

Attack of the Clones

In addition to summoning Venezuela’s sycophantic domestic opposition, who support sanctions against their own people, the U.S. has gone on the offensive using the regional Lima Group to destabilize Venezuela. The group was established last August in Lima, the capital of Peru, as a block to oppose Venezuela.

The eighth Summit of the Americas was held in Lima in April under the lofty slogan of “democratic governance against corruption.” Unfortunately for the imperialists, the president of the host country was unable to greet the other U.S. clones. A few days earlier he had been forced to resign because of corruption. Venezuelan President Maduro was barred from attending.

Along with Peru and the U.S. ’ ever faithful junior partner Canada, other members of the Lima Group are:

    Mexico, a prime participant of the U.S. -sponsored War on Drugs, is plagued with drug cartel violence. The frontrunner for the July presidential election is left-of-center Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who is widely believed to have won the last two elections only to have them stolen from him.

    Panama’s government is a direct descendent of the one installed on a U.S. warship when the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989. Recall the triggering incident that unleashed U.S. bombs and 26,000 troops into Panama against a defense force of 3,000: a GI in civilian clothes was fatally shot running a military checkpoint and another GI and his wife were assaulted. What similarly grave affront to the global hegemon might precipitate a comparable military response for Venezuela? Panama imposed sanctions against Venezuela in a spat in April, accusing Venezuela of money laundering. Panama is a regional money laundering center for the illicit drug trade (some alleged through aTrump-owned hotel).

    Argentina elected Mauricio Macri president in 2015. He immediately sold the country out to the vulture funds and the IMF while imposing severe austerity measures on working people. The economy has tanked, reversing the gains of the previous left-leaning presidencies of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández. Military and diplomatic deference to the U.S. has become the order of the day. Macri has negotiated installation of two U.S. military bases in Argentina, first with Obama and now with Trump.

    Brazil deposed its left-leaning, democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff in a 2016 parliamentary coup. Her successor, the unelected Michel Temer, has imposed austerity measures and cooperated with the U.S. in joint military exercises along the Brazilian border with Venezuela. Temer suffers from single digit popularity ratings and is barred from running for public office due to a corruption conviction. Former left-leaning president “Lula” da Silva is the frontrunner in October’s presidential election but was imprisoned in April by Temer’s government.

    Chile was the victim of the U.S. -backed coup, which overthrew the elected left-leaning government of Salvador Allende in 1973. A reign of terror followed with the extreme rightwing government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet killing thousands. An economic and diplomatic destabilization campaign coordinated by Washington set the stage for the coup. The Chilean regime-change scenario could be the model for Venezuela. The rightwing opposition in Venezuela torched a maternity hospital with mothers and babies inside and even poured gasoline on suspected Chávez supporters, burning them alive.

    Colombia is the U.S. ’ closest ally in the region, the recipient of the most U.S. military aid, and the source of the greatest amount of illicit drugs afflicting the U.S. . The Colombian government has flaunted its recent peace accords with the FARC and continues to be a world leader with 7 million internally displaced persons and political assassinations of trade union leaders, human rights workers, and journalists. In cooperation with the U.S. , Colombia has been provocatively massing troops along its border with Venezuela.

    Costa Rica is a neoliberal state that has been a staunch silent partner of U.S. imperialism ever since it served as a base for the Contra war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

    Guatemala is a major source of undocumented immigrants fleeing violence into the relative safety of the U.S. . Femicide is rampant as is criminal impunity, all legacies of the U.S. -backed dirty war of genocide from the 1960s through the ‘80s, which claimed some 200,000 Mayan lives.

    Honduras’ left-leaning President Zelaya was deposed in a U.S. -backed coup in 2009. In the aftermath of rightwing repression and domestic violence, Honduras earned the title of murder capital of the world. The current rightwing president was reelected last November in an election so blatantly fraudulent that even the Organization of American States (OAS) failed to endorse the results.

    Paraguay is the site of the first of the rightwing parliamentary coups in the region when left-leaning President Fernando Lugo was deposed in 2012.

Such is the nature of the rightwing states allied against Venezuela in contemporary Latin America. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this right tide is the willingness of Brazil and Argentina to allow U.S. military installations in their border areas as well as conducting joint U.S. -led military exercises with contingents from Panama, Colombia and other countries.

Cuba, Bolivia, and Nicaragua are Venezuela’s few remaining regional allies, all of which have been subject to U.S. -backed regime-change schemes. Most recently, the Nicaraguan government undertook modest measures to increase workers’ and employers’ contributions but lower benefits. It led to violent demonstrations. Some sources hostile to the Ortega government labelled the protests as “made in the U.S. A.” In the face of such protests, the government rescinded the changes on April 23.
The Empire Strikes Back

In early April, the U.S. Southern Command conducted a series of military exercises, dubbed “Fused Response,” just 10 miles off the Venezuelan coast, simulating an invasion.

Later that month, Juan Cruz, Special Assistant to President Trump and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, was asked whether the U.S. government supports a military coup in Venezuela. Speaking for the White House and dripping with imperial arrogance, he responded affirmatively:

    “If you look at the history of Venezuela, there’s never been a seminal movement in Venezuela’s history, politics, that did not involve the military. And so it would be naïve for us to think that a solution in Venezuela wouldn’t in some fashion include a very strong nod – at a minimum – strong nod from the military, a whisper in the ear, a coaxing or a nudging, or something a lot stronger than that.”

Across the Atlantic on May 3, the European Parliament demanded Venezuela suspend presidential elections. Four days later, U.S. Vice President Pence called on the OAS to expel Venezuela. Adding injury to insult, the U.S. announced yet another round of sanctions. Then the next day, U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley joined the chorus calling on President Maduro to cancel the presidential election and resign.

Far more blatant and frightening is the Plan to Overthrow the Venezuelan Dictatorship – Masterstroke, dated February 23, 2018.  Masterstroke was leaked on the website Voltairenet.org and picked up by Stella Calloni in the reliable and respected Resumen Latinoamericano. Although Masterstroke is unverified, the contents as reported by Calloni are entirely consistent with U.S. policy and pronouncements:

    “The document signed by the head of the U.S. Southern Command demands making the Maduro government unsustainable by forcing him to give up, negotiate or escape. This Plan to end in very short terms the so-called ‘dictatorship’ of Venezuela calls for, ‘Increase internal instability to critical levels, intensifying the decapitalization of the country, the escape of foreign capital and the deterioration of the national currency, through the application of new inflationary measures that increase this deterioration.’”

That is, blame the Venezuelan government for the conditions imposed upon it by its enemies.

Masterstroke calls for, “Continuing to harden the condition within the (Venezuelan) Armed Forces to carry out a coup d’état, before the end of 2018, if this crisis does not cause the dictatorship to collapse or if the dictator (Maduro) does not decide to step aside.”

Failing an internal coup, Masterstroke plans an international military invasion: “Uniting Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Panama to contribute a good number of troops, make use of their geographic proximity…”

A New Hope

With the urging of the Pope and under the auspices of the government of the Dominican Republic, the Maduro government and elements of the opposition agreed to sit down to negotiate last January in the hopes of ending the cycle of violence and the deterioration of living conditions in Venezuela.

By early February they had come to a tentative agreement to hold elections. The Maduro government initially opposed a UN election observation team as a violation of national sovereignty, but then accepted it as a concession to the opposition. The opposition in turn would work to end the unilateral sanctions by the U.S. , Canada, and the EU, which are so severely crippling the daily life of ordinary Venezuelans. Two years of adroit diplomacy by the Maduro government with the less extreme elements of the opposition were bearing fruit.

The agreement had been crafted and a meeting was called for the government and the opposition to sign on. The government came to the final meeting, but not the opposition. The opposition as good clones of Washington had gotten a call from their handlers to bail.

In a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t scenario, the U.S. first accused Venezuela of not scheduling presidential elections. Then elections were scheduled, but too early for the U.S. . Then the date of the elections was moved to April and then extended to May. No matter what, the U.S. would not abide by any elections in Venezuela.Ipso factoelections are considered fraudulent by U.S. if the people might vote for the wrong candidate.

Mesa de la Unidad Democrática(MUD), the coalition of Venezuelan opposition groups allied with and partially funded by the U.S., are accordingly boycotting Sunday’s election and are putting pressure on Henri Falcón to withdraw his candidacy. Falcón is Maduro’s main competition in the election. MUD has already concluded that the election is fraudulent and are doing all they can to discourage voting.

CNBC, reflecting the Washington consensus, expects the U.S. to directly target the Venezuelan oil industry immediately after the election in what they describe as “a huge sucker punch to Maduro’s socialist administration, which is depending almost entirely on crude sales to try and decelerate a deepening economic crisis.”

Ever hopeful and always militant, Maduro launched the new Petro cryptocurrency and revalued the country’s traditional currency, the Bolivar, in March. The Petro is collateralized on Venezuela’s vast mineral resources: the largest petroleum reserves in the world and large reserves of gold and other precious metals. The U.S. immediately accused Venezuela of sinisterly trying to circumvent the sanctions…which is precisely the intent of the Petro and other economic reforms, some of which are promised for after the presidential election.

The Force Awakens

Latin America has been considered the U.S. empire’s proprietary backyard since the proclamation of the Monroe Document in 1823, reaffirmed by John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress in 1961, and asserted by today’s open military posturing by President Trump.

The so-called Pink Tide of left-leaning governments spearheaded by Venezuela in the early part of this century served as a counter-hegemonic force. By any objective estimation that force has been ebbing but can awaken.

Before Chávez, all of Latin America suffered under neoliberal regimes except Cuba. If Maduro is overthrown, a major obstacle to re-establishing this hemispheric wide neoliberalism would be gone.

The future of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is pivotal to the future of the counter-hegemonic project, which is why it is the empire’s prime target in the Western Hemisphere. If the Venezuelan government falls, all Latin American progressive movements could suffer immensely: AMLO’s campaign in Mexico, the resistance in Honduras and Argentina, maybe the complete end of the peace accords in Colombia, a left alternative to Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, the Sandinista social programs in Nicaragua, the struggle for Lula’s presidency in Brazil, and even Morales and the indigenous movements in Bolivia.

As U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger said in 1970: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”
"The State is a body of armed men."

Offline Surly1

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Re: The Venezuela thread
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2018, 04:40:47 AM »
With a neat round-up of the other S. American countries

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/05/18/us-not-sitting-idly-by-on-eve-of-venezuelan-election/
The US Is "Meddling" In The Venezuelan Election
Roger Harris
05/20/2018

As Venezuelans go to the polls today, the U.S. is working to disrupt the re-election of Nicolas Maduro and rollback left-wing governments in the region...

//
The future of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is pivotal to the future of the counter-hegemonic project, which is why it is the empire’s prime target in the Western Hemisphere. If the Venezuelan government falls, all Latin American progressive movements could suffer immensely: AMLO’s campaign in Mexico, the resistance in Honduras and Argentina, maybe the complete end of the peace accords in Colombia, a left alternative to Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, the Sandinista social programs in Nicaragua, the struggle for Lula’s presidency in Brazil, and even Morales and the indigenous movements in Bolivia.

As U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger said in 1970: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

In followup news, Maduro wins, FSoA Outraged...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/20/venezuela-president-nicolas-maduro-election
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Venezuela thread
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2018, 03:33:18 PM »
ZH is only concerned that the US squeeze of Venezuela will put gasoline prices up.  More importantly the action will drive Venezuela into the Chinese oil market.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-21/trump-bars-purchases-debt-receivables-owed-venezuela-pdvsa
Trump Bars Purchases Of Debt, Receivables Owed To Venezuela, PDVSA
Tyler Durden
Mon, 05/21/2018

One day after Nicolas Maduro won another six-year term  as Venezuela's president in a vote that western countries denounced as illegitimate and which the opposition boycotted, President Donald Trump escalated economic pressure on the Latin American nation with an executive order prohibiting purchases of debts owed to the government, including to the state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, Bloomberg reported.

While both entities are now officially bankrupt, having failed to make several coupon and maturity payments in the recent past and triggering CDS, hardly leading to a burst in investors confidence even among those desperate to allocate "other people's money" into this particular hyperinflationary socialist paradise, the executive order - which covers all transactions on any debts owed to the Venezuelan government or state-owned enterprises including accounts receivable - will make funding of the Caracas regime by US-linked entities impossible.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Trump administration leakers - of which there are many - said the order was intended to restrict the Maduro regime’s ability to liquidate its assets and close off avenues for corruption. While that was not surprisingly, in a novel the prohibition on purchases of debts owed to Venezuela also explicitly targets working capital in the form of accounts receivable.

    One administration official said the action was intended to choke off funding the Maduro regime has been raising by selling off money owed in future to the government and state-owned enterprises in exchange for immediate payment cash.

And while an official said such transactions were tantamount to mortgaging the future of Venezuela, what the leaker forgot to mention is that the only entities who would be willing to fund such receivable are China and Russia, neither of which would subject itself to US sanctions.

The order also prohibits the sale, transfer or pledging of collateral of any equity interest in which the Venezuelan government has a 50 percent or greater ownership interest.

What the order will achieve, is give China even greater control over financial and political events in Venezuela, while further pressuring PDVSA production, and leading to even lower Venezuela oil output...



... which in turn will send the price of oil to even higher highs, just in time for peak driving season, and assuring that the bulk of Trump's tax stimulus is spent on gasoline.
"The State is a body of armed men."

Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Venezuela thread
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2018, 04:29:55 PM »
https://www.rt.com/usa/431723-trump-considered-venezuela-invasion/
Trump considered invading Venezuela at height of political crisis – reports
4 Jul, 2018

US President Donald Trump has allegedly contemplated a possibility of sending the American troops into Venezuela, according to AP. The US leader even repeatedly raised this issue with his top aides and Latin American leaders.

Why can’t the US just simply invade the troubled country? Trump reportedly asked his top aides in August 2017, referring to Venezuela, AP says, citing an unnamed US official familiar with the matter. The president particularly discussed this issue with the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the then national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, both of whom, allegedly expressed skepticism over the idea by saying such a move could alienate the US allies in the Latin America.

Trump, who called the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a “dictator” and blamed him for the humanitarian problems in the country, was apparently not going to back down. He told his aides that he considered previous US interventions in the region “successful,” while particularly mentioning the invasions into Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

It was reportedly the next day after this meeting, when Trump infamously threatened Caracas with “military option,” provoking outrage both in Venezuela and abroad. The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for nationwide “anti-imperialist” drills in response to this threat, while Russia denounced any plans of military intervention into the Latin American country as “unacceptable.”

The idea of a military intervention floated by the US leader was also explicitly rejected by the Bolivian Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni Mamani. However, such widespread resistance to his plans allegedly did not stop Trump as less than a week later he raised the issue once again – this time with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The US president also continued to push this idea on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2017. According to AP, he discussed the issue during a private dinner with the leader of four Latin American countries, including Colombia. Trump allegedly went as far as to ask each of the leaders personally if they are “sure” they did not want a “military solution” to the Venezuelan political crisis that the Latin American country was facing through 2017.

However, the US president eventually failed to garner support for his plans both from the regional leaders and his own administration officials. The Latin American Mercosur trade bloc, which includes Brazil and Argentina among others, particularly issued a statement, which said that “the only acceptable means of promoting democracy are dialogue and diplomacy.” The Ecuadorian President also ruled out any intervention by saying that Venezuela is free to pursue its own path while the former Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff warned that Trump’s actions might lead to a full-scale war in Latin America.

The White House declined to comment on these reports. However, a National Security Council spokesman told AP that the US still considers all options at its disposal to help “restore Venezuela’s democracy.”

Washington might indeed have not entirely given up on an idea of an intervention, or at least a military coup in Venezuela. The Trump administration slapped the Latin American country with new sanctions following Maduro’s victory in what Washington slammed as “sham” elections. The US media, meanwhile, continued to openly call for a military coup in Venezuela.
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Venezuela braces for fallout from apparent drone attack on Maduro
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2018, 08:05:42 AM »
Venezuela braces for fallout from apparent drone attack on Maduro

An explosion interrupted President Nicolás Maduro televised speech in what the government called a “failed attack” against the president.(AP)

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CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela braced on Sunday for more possible arrests and potential military purges one day after the government said President Nicolás Maduro had survived an apparent assassination attempt in which drones carrying explosives targeted him in the midst of a nationally televised address.

Maduro was unharmed in the incident, which officials said had injured seven soldiers in an extraordinary scene captured on video that showed hundreds of Maduro’s troops seemingly fleeing in panic at the sound of an explosion. Saying a “shield of love” had protected his life, the president accused “far right” extremists linked to Colombia and Venezuelan dissidents living in the United States for the alleged attack during an impassioned speech delivered three hours after the incident.

Although some opposition leaders said they doubted the government’s version, two residents of a nearby building said Sunday they saw the drone, and watched it explode.

“We saw the drone that looked like the size of half a bycicle. It came from the sky and we thought it was a boy playing with it,” said Pedro Peña, 62, who was in a seventh floor apartment with Gladys Miquelena, 56.

Seconds after they saw it, it exploded, he said. “We were scared. It sounded like a bomb.”

The Associated Press had reported Saturday that three firefighters on the scene said a gas tank had exploded.


In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, security surround Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during an incident as he delivered a speech in Caracas. (Xinhua via AP)

“It is not true that it was a gas leak,” Peña, said. “Gas comes trough tubes here. I think it was a drone with explosives inside of it.”

“It was not a gas leak. We have direct gas,” said Catherine Pita, 24, another neighbor. “It was a drone that hit the building and caused the fire. One girl was hit by a glass window on the head and was taken to the hospital.”

Maduro went so far as to blame Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos by name for the attack, prompting Santos’ office to issue an “emphatic denial.” 

“The suggestion that the Colombian president is responsible for this supposed attack against the Venezuela president is absurd and lacking in all foundation,” Santos’ office said in a statement. “It is already the custom of the Venezuelan leader to permanently blame Colombia for any type of situation.”

A senior State Department official declined to comment on the incident beyond saying the department was following reports from Caracas.

Maduro said that several suspects had been apprehended. But the government did not disclose their identities, nor did it release further evidence from the scene. 

Experts called on the government to release further video footage and evidence.

A video of the incident at 5:40 p.m. Saturday showed first lady Cilia Flores looking up from beside Maduro and putting her hand to her heart, appearing frightened, after an apparent explosion. Maduro is then abruptly cut off during his address to his National Guard. A camera then trains on lines of military personnel in formation in the center of Caracas. Seconds later, the soldiers, as well as figures standing behind barricades, run to one side and Maduro’s voice could be heard saying, “Let’s go to the right.”

“From the footage of the stage and the military scattering, it looks like they saw something,” said David Smilde, a Venezuela expert with the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank. “But if the government or someone else does not put out some footage of these drones or the explosions, it should be considered highly suspect. They film everything they do from multiple angles. So it is hard to imagine that they would not have footage of this if it actually happened.”

Venezuela’s opposition leaders cast doubts on the government’s version of the attack, and and accused it of aiming to ramp up persecutions against legions of army deserters while distracting the public from an economic crisis in which hunger and malnutrition are growing and disease is spreading as hospitals lack even basic medicines. 

Seven journalists covering the story were stopped by security forces and interrogated for hours, according to Venezuela’s National Union of Media Workers. All were freed, but some had their cameras confiscated, the union said.

“We were doing videos from our car because it was raining and then we tried to go near Bolivar Avenue to show the situation when national guard and military intelligence approached us,” Neidy Freites, a reporter for the live-streaming news site VivoPlay said in a video posted on the outlet’s Twitter account. “One of them got in our car... He almost sat on top of me,” she said. “He took my phone, told me to turn off the camera. It was intimidating.”

People who live near where the incident took place said they heard two explosions. 

“It remains to be seen if it really was an attack, a fortuitous accident or some of the other versions circulating in the media,” the Ample Front, a coalition of parties and civil society groups, said in a statement. “The responsible thing would be to wait for investigations to be made, but it’s hard to believe what the regime’s bureaucrats say.” 

Juan Pablo Guanipa, removed governor of the state of Zulia, tweeted the video of the moment the speech was interrupted, and said, “These images leave us two conclusions. That the regime of Maduro knows it has so much rejection from the people and the military that it puts up an attack to see how much Venezuelan and international solidarity he can gather. And that the armed forces are scared and not willing to defend his life. ”

The incident sent shock waves through Venezuela, a country already on edge. The South American nation is in the thick of a roiling political and economic crisis. With inflation spiraling toward 1 million percent and shortages growing more acute, dozens of officers and soldiers have been arrested by the government in connection with alleged coup plots.

In June 2017, an intelligence police commander flew a helicopter over government institutions and threw grenades at the country’s Supreme Court building. The commander, Oscar Pérez, was executed in January after publishing dramatic videos of his confrontation with military personnel.

Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers have deserted their posts since Maduro — a former bus driver and the successor to Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013 — won an election in May that opposition leaders and dozens of countries, including the United States, called fraudulent. Maduro has sought to rally his loyalists to defend the nation after suggestions by President Trump that a military solution remains on the table to force Maduro to restore democracy. 

Analysts suggested Maduro was likely to use the incident to conduct further purges against military troops suspected of disloyalty. 

“He’ll use the incident to radicalize; likely, to purge the military, strengthen his personal guard, and embellish the narrative about being under attack from the U.S. and Colombia and others in a bid for sympathy and support,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, a business and culture organization.

A group called “Soldiers in T-Shirts,” who describe themselves as dissident soldiers, took responsibility for the attacks through a Twitter handle that has 90,000 followers.

“The operation was to fly two drones charged with C4 [explosive] with the presidential stage as the objective. But guard of honor snipers overtook the drones before they reached the target. We demonstrated that they’re vulnerable. We didn’t achieve it today, but it’s a matter of time. #PatriotMilitarymen,” the group tweeted around 7 p.m.

Maduro’s popularity has fallen to less than 30 percent as Venezuelans have become unable to meet their most basic needs.

Maduro, who was speaking at an event celebrating the 81st anniversary of Venezuela’s National Guard, was in the middle of a pledge to lead the country toward an economic recovery when the apparent explosion occurred.

“This was an attack to kill me,” he said. “Already, the first investigations show that those intellectually and financially responsible for this attack live in the United States of North America, in Florida. I hope the government of Donald Trump is willing to combat terrorist groups that want to attack presidents of peaceful nations.”

Faiola reported from Miami.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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