Yesterday, PSUV representatives – including Diosdado Cabello, Jorge Arreaza and Cilia Flores – accused Maria Corina Machado of being part of a plot to assassinate Nicolas Maduro and overthrow the government.
The officials spoke about alleged written exchanges between Maria Corina Machado and Gustavo Tarre, a high profile constitutional lawyer. Jorge Rodriguez – mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas – spoke on behalf of the government, and said:
There’s a complejo [roughly, “group of people with a plan’] with the aim of ending peace conspiring to commit magnicide. They raised funds to assassinate Nicolas Maduro, along with a coup d’etat currently developing, which was fortunately deactivated on time.
According to the government, the supposed conspirators were also looking to assassinate Diosdado Cabello, Tareck el Aissami and the Minister of the Interior and Justice, Miguel Rodriguez Torres. The government maintains that the assassinations were the brainchild of Maria Corina Machado, and that evidence of these claims would be presented in the coming days.
In response, Maria Corina Machado filed a suit against Jorge Rodriguez, accusing him of seven crimes, including defamation and injury, forgery, and electronic espionage. Machado also made the following comments:
What we have in Venezuela are criminal gangs that have taken over public institutions. A group is already acting like real criminals, and they have the power of the State and they are using it to deny social, economic and political liberties to all citizens, and even mine.
She also raised concerns about the nature of the claim against her, and in particular, the obvious violation of due process in the way the accusation is being handled by the government:
If there is an investigation against me, why did they [the Attorney General’s office] hand it over to a third party, in this case Mr. Jorge Rodriguez? And why wasn’t I told that there was an investigation against me, so that I could exercise my legitimate right to mount a defence?
In Other News
The Venezuelan Central Bank is on the verge of announcing that inflation for the first three months of the year was at levels not seen since 1996. According to El Nacional, the department responsible for calculating these kinds of statistics has handed its report to the directors of the Central Bank, who are expected to release the numbers before long. Inflation for the first three months sits at 10.1%, a number not seen since the first three year of 1996.
El Universal says that the increasing inflation comes at the same time as fears that Venezuela will enter a recession are reignited, given the “decrease in manufacturing, construction, commerce and the stagnation of oil production”.
Below is a video showing a confrontation between protesters and security forces in San Cristobal, Tachira yesterday:
And here is a link to the debate on the floor of the House of Representatives last night on H.R. 4587, the bill passed last night that would place sanctions on Venezuelan officials found to be involved in human rights violations:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past four months from covering the news in Venezuela, it’s this: The government says a lot of things.
I remember early on, when I had just recently began to keep up with daily Venezuelan news, when Diosado Cabello and Tareck el Aissami announced that they had captured a “Middle Eastern terrorist mercenary” who had been hired by the opposition to plant car bombs throughout the country. Diosdado Cabello talked proudly on his T.V. show about how the man had been captured with cell phone numbers, e-mails and correspondence that linked him directly to the opposition.
“My God”, I thought, “this is huge!”. Irrefutable evidence that the opposition was engaged in a dirty war with the government. The evidence would be brought to light later on, it was said, and viewers were asked to take Diosdado’s words on good faith as being an accurate representation of the truth. My awe at the earth-shattering revelations subsided when a contact living in the country reminded me that same day that, in his words, “The government says a lot of things“. And what the government says isn’t always the truth.
What happened to the Middle Eastern terrorist, and the cell phone numbers, and the evidence linking him to the opposition, and the car bomb campaign? Nothing. Absolutely nothing came of it. As explosive, damming and apparently obvious as the evidence was stated to be, nothing happened. I’m not saying that the government made the whole thing up, but the fact that in the end nothing ended up happening to this story seems to point in that direction.
For that reason alone, I’m very sceptical about these latest claims against Maria Corina Machado. After all, we’ve been down this road before with this government. Just ask the Middle Eastern terrorist mercenary.