Caracas was plunged into chaos today as pro-regime militias attacked the National Assembly building while the legislature was in session, while at the same time a hijacked helicopter attacked the headquarters of the Tribunal Supreme de Justicia (TSJ) not too far away from the parliament building.
National Assembly Deputies Attacked After Bizarre Box Incident
The commotion in Caracas began today after scuffles broke out inside the National Assembly building while parliament was in session.
The scuffles began after deputies Delsa Solorzano, Olivia Lozano and Winston Flores caught a group of National Guard soldiers carrying boxes marked “Consejo Nacional Electoral“ into the National Guard’s office on parliament grounds. The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) is the government agency in charge of organizing and overseeing elections.
The images below, taken at the National Assembly today, show the soldiers moving the boxes:
When the three deputies asked the soldiers what they were doing with the boxes, the soldiers attacked them. The video below shows bedlam on the legislature grounds as legislators, soldiers and others fought one another:
At the moment, it is not clear why the soldiers were carrying the boxes or what was in them.
At around 5:00 PM local time, a group of pro-regime militias attempted to break into the legislature grounds but were held back at the gates. The group attempted to enter the premises for four hours before leaving the area.
The pro-regime group set off fireworks inside the National Assembly grounds from the others side of the legislature’s fence:
The image below shows National Guard soldiers standing guard at one of the National Assembly’s gates as the pro-regime militias congregate on the other side:
The video below shows some of the pro-regime crowd outside of the National Assembly’s fence:
In the video below, the pro-regime crowd can be heard yelling on the other side of the National Assembly’s doors:
National Assembly president Julio Borges had a tense confrontation with Colonel Vladimir Lugo Argas, the ranking officer in charge of the National Guard detachment at the legislature. At the end of the exchange, Colonel Lugo shoved Borges. Below, the video along with my translation:
Colonel Lugo: … your rights end where mine begin.
Borges: Ok, look, that camera there [points to camera] is to put on a show.
Colonel Lugo: Aha! You say the cameras are for show?
Borges: I am the president of the National Assembly–
Colonel Lugo: –and I am the commander of this unit! The commander of the unit!
Borges: — who do you think —
Colonel Lugo: — you might be the… I am the commander of the unit! I’m asking you to leave. Leave, please. You might be the president of whatever, but please leave. I’m done talking to you. [unintelligible] [Pushes Borges out the door]. Get out. Get out!
Helicopter Attacks TSJ Building
In the mid afternoon, a lone helicopter began to fly over the headquarters of the TSJ, Venezuela’s supreme court, in eastern Caracas. As the helicopter flew over the building, explosions could be heard in the area, suggesting that the helicopter was somehow attacking the installations.
The helicopter appeared did not appear to be a military model. It was not armed with the kinds of armaments (cannon, missiles, etc.) that a military attack helicopter might be armed with.
The video below shows the helicopter buzzing the TSJ building as the sound of explosions rock the air. Some of the explosions may have been gunfire, presumably from security forces on the ground trying to shoot down the helicopter:
More videos of the helicopter as it flew over the TSJ building:
El Nacional reports that the helicopter dropped two grenades on the TSJ building: one detonated near or on the building, while the other failed to detonate.
The helicopter flew a flag that read “350 LIBERTAD”. “Libertad” is the Spanish word for “Liberty”, and “350” refers to Article 350 of the Constitution, which reads:
Article 350: The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle
for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority
that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human
Maduro reacted to the helicopter attack by calling it a “terrorist act” and vowing to capture those responsible.
Helicopter Hijackers Posted Video Calling for Uprising
The man who hijacked the helicopter and attacked the TSJ building in Caracas tonight is named Oscar Perez. He is an officer with the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Cientificas, Penales y Criminalisticas (CICPC), which is an investigative police force in Venezuela. Perez is also a soldier with the Brigada de Acciones Especiales [Special Action Brigade], an elite special operations branch of the Air Force.
Perez posted a message on Instagram earlier this afternoon calling for an uprising against the Maduro regime. Below, the video along with my translation:
Oscar Perez: Venezuelans. Dear brothers. We speak to you from within the state. We are a coalition of military, police and civilian officers searching for balance and against this transitory, criminal government. We do not belong to any political party, nor do we have any political tendencies. We are nationalists, patriots and institutionalists.
This struggle is not against the rest of the state security forces. It is against the impunity that this government has brought, against tyranny, against the deaths of the youth who fight for their legitimate rights, against the lack of food and medicine, against fanaticism. This is a fight for life, and for the hope that we’re building. It is not revenge. It is justice and our conscience that drives us to seek change.
We make this distinction [in the name of] truth and of Jesus Christ, who is with us.
This is why we’re calling on all Venezuelans, from east to west and from north to south to accompany us in this struggle, and to go out onto the streets. In Caracas, to Fuerte Tiuna [a military base in the city], and in the interior of the country to each military base so that we can meet once again as brothers in our National Armed Forces. Together, we [will] rescue our beautiful Venezuela.
Today, we are undertaking air and land operations with the only goal of returning power to the democratic people, and in so doing obeying the law and making others obey the law in order to reestablish constitutional order. This is why we adhere ourselves to article 350 and 333 of our Constitution. It is our duty as state security forces to dismantle these paramiltiary groups in order to restore peace to Bolivar’s people.
We demand, President Nicolas Maduro Moros, that you resign immediately along with all of your minister, and for immediate general elections to be announced. To you, our brother in arms: we have to options. Either be judged by our conscience tomorrow and the people, or to liberate our people from this corrupt government today.
We are God’s warriors. Our mission is to live at the service of the people. Viva Venezuela!
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