Powerful Enemy May Be Behind Assassination Attempt on Maduro - Journo

© REUTERSEl presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, y su esposa, Cilia Flores, asisten a un evento militar en Caracas, Venezuela, el 4 de agosto de 2018.
El presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, y su esposa, Cilia Flores, asisten a un evento militar en Caracas, Venezuela, el 4 de agosto de 2018. - Sputnik International
Maduro earlier faced a failed assassination attempt via explosive-carrying drones during an address at a military parade in Caracas on Saturday. According to the Venezuelan authorities, Maduro was unharmed, but seven soldiers were injured.

Sputnik has discussed the possible perpetrators behind the events that took place in Caracas with Lazar Kheifets, lead researcher for the Latin American Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, professor of American Studies at School of International Relations of Saint Petersburg State University, and Konstantin Sapozhnikov, also known as Nil Nikandrov, a Russian journalist, Latin Americanist and author of the book “Hugo Chávez.”

Sputnik: After the assassination attempt, Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab didn’t exclude the possibility that it had been planned outside of Venezuela. Who do you think may be behind this attempt? Are there any external forces that would benefit from what happened?

Militia members and supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attend a rally in support of him in Caracas, Venezuela August 6, 2018. - Sputnik International
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Konstantin Sapozhnikov: All the economic blockades have had no effect; they can’t do anything to the Venezuelan government. Although the regime itself is unstable, I think the main battles are still to come. I think Maduro will win in the end. The drone attacks scheme is very similar to what has been practiced in Syria with attacks on Russian bases, etc.

This scheme is very clear and in order to organize it, you need a very powerful infrastructure, trained personnel. Of course, drones may be sold freely on the market, but they are not sold full of powerful explosives, which is why this attack cannot be linked to radical opponents.

This attack was, most likely, very well planned and included a coordinator and professionals. The fact that all this happened during the celebrations of the 81st anniversary of the National Guard of Venezuela indicates that it was not a coincidence. Everything was very well prepared and intended for maximum effect, to prepare for a coup d’état. However, this coup isn’t going to take place in Venezuela because the Maduro government has the situation under control.

Lazar Kheifets:  Maduro's government has caused discontent not only in Latin America. There are many international players who want to eliminate it through the use of force. I think Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek William Saab, was referring to the Venezuelan opposition that resides in the US city of Miami, Florida. Trying to guess the possible perpetrators of a terrorist attack is an unproductive method. We need absolutely precise facts here. The Flannel Soldiers, the group that claimed responsibility for the attack, has carried out similar attacks in the past. Their supposed leader, former Venezuelan police officer Óscar Pérez, recently died in a confrontation with the Venezuelan police.
I’m very cautious when dealing with any information that appears on the Internet. Can anyone who uploads data there be called an “organization”? The Flannel Soldiers may have perpetrated the attack on Maduro, but where is the evidence?

Sputnik: Do you think the US could be behind the attempt?

Venezuela's General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz, speaks during news conference at her office in Caracas, Venezuela - Sputnik International
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Konstantin Sapozhnikov: Of course, because the US is currently Caracas’ enemy number one. Washington has planned many scenarios in Venezuela: suffocate it economically or use the fifth column, but none of these methods have paid off. Apparently, they’ve decided to put an end to the Venezuelan government in a radical way. Thus the opposition and the struggle in domestic politics have been put in the foreground in Venezuela.

I think they counted on that. The fact that the Venezuelan government let that happen shows that there’s some complexity within the country’s security agencies. What happened is a signal for Maduro, he’ll respond robustly. I think the attack could have been committed from Colombia, who is also one of Venezuela’s main enemies.

The Americans are working through Colombia, it may be that Colombian specialists have also participated in this attack, but the United States would be the main organizer, inspirer, and financier of everything that happened.

Lazar Kheifets: We can make conclusions about the case, but it’s necessary to have proof. All the statements here require confirmation.

Sputnik: After the attack, Nicolás Maduro addressed the nation and accused the Colombian president of being behind the assassination attempt. Why do you think that such accusations were made? Could Santos have anything to do with the attack?

Konstantin Sapozhnikov: Since the early days of the Hugo Chávez government Caracas and Bogota have always had problems in their bilateral relations. I believe that in the current attack there is a large Colombian footprint. The Americans, of course, hide behind the Colombian executors, but everything is planned and organized in the CIA. I think there won’t be any consequences in Venezuela, apart from a crackdown. However, in this context, we can’t say that Maduro's regime is tough; it’s actually really weak.

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Lazar Kheifets: The Colombian government has categorically rejected such a possibility. It’s evident that Venezuela and Colombia have a very difficult relationship. There are several reasons for that. The food crisis in Venezuela affected Colombia when thousands of Venezuelans crossed the border between the two countries to go shopping. The actions carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) have also affected the countries’ relations; in fact, the Colombian government has repeatedly accused Venezuela of supporting the FARC. In any case, to accuse Santos, we must have convincing evidence.

The tense relations between Caracas and Bogotá are one of the explanations for Maduro's accusations against Santos. I think that the main problem of present-day Venezuela is that there currently is a strong opposition in Venezuela that is unable to reach an agreement with the authorities.

Sputnik: Many political scientists note that Venezuela is pursuing a policy independent of the US in South America and that it is in Russia's interests. Moreover, some experts believe that there is a comparison to be made between the attack on Maduro, the attempt on the Turkish president and the Turkish coup d’état attempt in 2016. Do you think these events have anything in common?

Konstantin Sapozhnikov believes that there’s a parallel between what happened in Turkey and in Venezuela. This may be due to the fact that both countries have a common enemy in the guise of the United States.

Konstantin Sapozhnikov: I believe that the US is currently trying to eliminate the supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution and progressive forces in South America. We can say that those forces that have counteracted the US for a long time are already separated and don’t share any solidarity. A strong blow was struck against Brazil, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, which is why it’s clear that a very powerful enemy with great resources and capabilities is acting in the region.

I think something similar could happen in Nicaragua. Ecuador is already defeated as President Lenin Moreno has changed everything that was created by his predecessor Rafael Correa.

Venezuela's Bolivarian National guards officers occupy the Bolivar Avenue where the government said that a drone armed with explosives detonated near Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 - Sputnik International
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Russia is another very important aspect to the issue. Five years ago Moscow began to take steps to consolidate its position in Latin America which caused concern for the US. All our potential partners with whom we had positive cooperation, even in the field of arms supply, have all gone to defense.

They are all retreating and acting separately. I think the cause of these changes is linked to the US reaction to the fact that Russia had launched a powerful offensive in the region. We can expect anything from them.

Lazar Kheifets: If the events are similar, it doesn’t mean they are interdependent and planned in one center. At present, most of the oil that Venezuela sells abroad goes to the US. It’s also a well-known fact that Russia maintains close economic ties with Venezuela. Russia’s Rosneft has shown great interest in the exploration of Venezuelan oil.

However, it’s not necessarily true that the development of economic relations should always lead to conflicts. I don’t like the approach that turns economic competition into a global confrontation leading to a global confrontation implemented by force.

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