After accusing the Venezuelan opposition of launching a biological warfare campaign against his government with the aid of the media, Maduro asked for a criminal investigation into those responsible for reporting on the Maracay mystery illness.
Maduro also presented what he called “evidence” of the conspiracy: a video showing the president of the Aragua Medical College, Angel Sarmiento, talking about an unknown disease he believed had been responsible for killing eight patients in the Hospital Central de Maracay.
According to Maduro, the video is proof that the Venezuelan opposition is guilty of “psychological terrorism”, and called on the Attorney General to investigate the “crimes and terrorism” he believes have been conducted against the country.
Minister of Justice Announces “Terrorism” Arrest
The Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, gave a press conference today to announce the capture of a Venezuelan student in Tachira for “terrorist acts”.
The student, 21 year old Jhosman David Paredes, is being linked to Lorent Saleh, another student currently facing charges stemming from the violent protests that shook the state of Tachira earlier this year. Torres explained:
[Paredes was arrested] after a thorough investigation in order to carry out the letter of the law. His participation in various terrorist acts has been determined, and his willingness to carry of Saleh’s orders has been proven.
Torres proceeded to show a video which shows a man alleged to be Paredes talking about placing bombs throughout the state of Tachira, including the governor’s office.
The minister also provided a detailed account of the activities Paredes is accused of taking part in:
The activities in which here participated were: the arson attack against the headquarters of the Corporacion de Turismo del Tachira on February 24 of 2014. That same day, they burned down the Blala and Pasha clubs. On March 14, they participated in the arson attack against the headquarters of the Fifth Notary Public in that state. On March 18, they torched the headquarters of UNEFA with explosive devices. On April 29, along with his team, they torched public transit buses.
During the press conference, journalists asked Torres if he had any information regarding the dismembered bodies found in Caracas last month, a robbery carried out by National Guard members on a Caracas highway, and the theft of $155,000 from the Federacion Venezolana de Pesas.
Torres refused to provide comments on any of the questions, saying that those crimes had nothing to do with the press conference he had called for today.
Governor Asks for Investigation into Maracay Illness Affair
Governor of Aragua Tarek el Aissami has asked the authorities to launch an investigation into the words and actions of several high profile opposition figures, including Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma, regarding the mystery illness in Maracay.
The governor also explained that he believes his state is being singled out as a target because it is “a solid bastion of support for the revolutionary forces”. He went on to say:
In Aragua, they [the enemies of the state] are concentrating all of their fire in order to stop the irreversible move towards socialism. We’ve alerted the people about these campaigns because this is a continuous coup d’etat.
El Aissami referred to the Venezuelan opposition as “murderers and criminals”, and accused them of launching a media campaign to spread lies and panic about the existence of a mystery illness that has claimed at least nine lives in Aragua state over the past two weeks.
Venezuelan Crude Price Continues to Fall
The price for a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil fell to $88.39 today, down $1.80 from yesterday’s close. The Ministry of Oil and Mining blamed the fall on lowered global demand. The average price for Venezuelan crude for 2014 is $96.48.
While falling oil prices are sure to hurt government coffers, the price is still well above the estimate the government based its 2014 budget on, which was $60 per barrel.
Finally, two pictures. Below, a group of Venezuelans at an event in Cumana signing a banner with well-wishes for Leopoldo Lopez:
A torrential downpour in Caracas this afternoon caused chaos on the roads, leading to this standstill on a Caracas highway: