After saying he would do so a number of times, Maduro finally spoke on the Robert Serra murder today and gave details on the alleged culprits.
It’s a singular event in the political history of Venezuela, the murder of a prominent deputy by hired hitmen, a young leader of the generation Commander Hugo Chavez called the golden generation. If it’s not the most prominent [case], it’s one of the most prominent.
Maduro also said that the identity of the culprits was known right from the start:
Since the first moment that this happened… we know for certain who the criminals were, who the murderers were and how many there were. What’s been happening these day is that the panorama has cleared with each passing hour.
The President also said that Serra’s murder took three months to plan, and that it was carried out by a “Colombian paramilitary” who hired a Colombian gang named “El Colombia” operated by a man with the last name Padilla Leiva.The murder conspiracy allegedly involved eight people, including Serra’s chief bodyguard, Torres Camacho. Maduro also claims that two suitcases full of personal belongings were stolen from Serra’s home.
Maduro also showed a number of videos, including one allegedly showing a group of men entering Serra’s home on the night of the murder. The videos, available in Spanish here, will be translated into English and available in tomorrow’s update.
Without explanation, Maduro said that the murder is part of a broader plan to destabilize the country:
All of this is part of a chain of crimes that have been planned and that we’ve managed to dispel on time (…) the objective of the Serra murder is to destabilize the country.
Maduro did not explain who might be trying to destabilize the country, why, or how murdering Serra might help achieve that goal.
Secrecy Surrounds Chikungunya Outbreak
The first case of chikungunya – a mosquito-borne viruses that causes painful swelling of the joints – was reported in Venezuela on June 6 of this year. To this day, the Ministry of Health has not released any official information regarding where the disease is active or how many people have been infected.
Miguel Viscuña, the head epidemiologist at the Miranda state Ministry of Health, said that Miranda alone has recorded 1,611 suspected cases of the disease. According to Viscuña, the lack of data from the Ministry of Health is disconcerting, because accurate statistical data is crucial to creating action plans, both to help victims of the disease as well as to coordinate mosquito-control procedures.
Cases of chikungunya fever continue to increase. This is due to the fact that environmental factors continue to favour the increase in vector density, demographic factors such as the high density of susceptible populations, and social factors which favour the prevalence of [mosquitoes, which] are a transmission vector for this African disease.
Given the complete lack of government data, it is difficult to know for sure how widespread chikungunya has become in Venezuela, though anecdotal data suggests that the disease is rampant. Jose Felix Oletta, the ex-Minister of Health, said earlier this week that chikungunya is the only fever-causing disease on the rise in the country.
Incidences of fever in the country rose 7.09% between September 26 and October 4, which could mean an increase in the number of chikungunya infections.
Diaz Brushes Aside U.N. Report
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz spoke on a recent report by a United Nations body calling for the immediate release of Leopoldo Lopez. Diaz had terse words on the subject:
We are a sovereign country, free and independent… no international body can order Venezuela to do anything.
Paradoxically, Venezuela is currently vying for a for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Barring another country collecting 160 votes in opposition to Venezuela’s bid, or another country in Latin America and the Caribbean running for the seat, Venezuela is likely to achieve it’s goal by default.
Voting on which countries will take the vacant seats on the United Nation’s most important body is scheduled for tomorrow.