Two National Guard helicopters briefly entered Colombian airspace this afternoon, according to authorities in the neighbouring country. Eliecer Quintero, the mayor of the Maicao municipality in northeastern Colombia, said that the two helicopters flew low over the city and may have hovered over a police station before retreating back to Venezuela.
The video below appears to show today’s helicopter incursion. In the video, stunned onlookers watch as a helicopter flies back to Venezuela and hovers above their heads. As some record the event on their cellphones, other point out that the machines came from Venezuela:
The video was filmed here, approximately 150 meters inside Colombia from the Venezuelan border. The direction in which the video was shot makes it clear that the helicopter is flying back to Venezuela.
Today’s incursion is the second this week in Maicao. On Saturday, Venezuelan National Guard soldiers crossed the border into Colombia, fired their weapons and “shot tear gas” at Colombian citizens for unknown reasons. No one was injured in the event, and the Colombian government filed a formal complaint with Caracas over the matter.
France’s Macron Calls Venezuela “Dictatorship”; Costa Rica Concurs
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters yesterday that he was worried about the Venezuelan “dictatorship” in a speech in Paris. The comments come as the Maduro regime faces increasing pressure from the international community over its marked drive towards authoritarianism, particularly since its imposition of the National Constituent Assembly on July 30.
Macron’s comments came shortly after Costa Rican Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Gonzalez implied that the rule of law and democracy did not exist in Venezuela in a sly response to criticism leveled against his country by his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza.
Yesterday, Arreaza took to Twitter to attack the Costa Rican government’s reception of former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz by saying:
The government of Costa Rica has chosen to kneel before the policies of Washington and attacks Venezuela’s democracy and its legitimate institutions.
Gonzalez reacted to Arreaza’s tweet by saying:
It’s a little difficult to attack something that does not exist, [something that] is increasingly disappearing from the view of all of us who want a Latin America that lives in peace and democracy.
Moody’s Sees “Very High Probability” of Venezuelan Default
Moody’s Investor Service, the credit rating agency, issued a press release today in which it provided an update on its views of the Latin American situation for potential investors. While the press release covered ongoing issues in Argentina and Brazil, it also included the following paragraph on Venezuela:
In Venezuela, the credit impact of political risk is the most obvious, leading to a very high probability of default by the sovereign and the national oil company PDVSA. The escalating crisis has led to violent protests, capital flight, and the destruction of the productive capacity, resulting in the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history.
Venezuela’s credit rating is listed as negative by the world’s leading credit agencies, including Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch.
Tintori: Lopez Agrees with Regional Election Participation
Human rights activist Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, said today during a press conference that her husband agrees with the decision of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) to participate in the upcoming regional election, which are scheduled to take place before the end of the year.
Leopoldo says that we have to participate [in the election], that Venezuelans want to vote and that they want to move beyond this disaster in a peaceful way. We see no other way to move beyond the disaster that Venezuela is living other than the vote.
Tintori pointed out that the last time that many in the opposition were skeptical in 2015 that the regime would respect the results of the parliamentary elections that year. However, the turnout was so massive and the decision was so overwhelming in the opposition’s favour that the regime had no option but to allow the vote to stand, Tintori suggested.
The decision to participate in the regional election has caused controversy among opposition circles. Maria Corina Machado’s Vente Venezuela party pulled out of the MUD after the bloc announced its intention to take part in the election.
Tintori also spoke on her husband’s recent five-day stint at the Ramo Verde military prison, where he was taken in the middle of the night for reasons that are still unclear. On what those five days in prison were like for Lopez, Tintori said:
Those five days were full of horror and trauma. Those were five days of torture and isolation. For five days he was left in a sealed cell that had no one and nothing in it, not even a Bible.
Lopez is the head of the Voluntad Popular opposition party. He was arrested in February 2014 over his alleged role in the anti-regime protests of that year, and sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison at the conclusion of a trial in 2015 that was rife with irregularities. His arrest, trial and conviction have been universally condemned by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Newspaper Office Attacked With Fire Bomb
The headquarters of Version Final, an independent newspaper in Maracaibo, Zulia state, was attacked by unknown assailants this afternoon. The attackers threw an incendiary device at the building, which landed in the parking lot and set three cars ablaze.
The newspaper claims that more than one device was thrown at the site.
Below, an image of the burning cars in the building’s parking lot:
The text in the tweet below claims that the explosive device(s) was a Molotov cocktail:
The attack, the reasons for which are not yet known, did not result in any injuries.
Blackouts Affecting At Least 10 States
At least ten of Venezuela’s westernmost states have been affected by blackouts of varying severity over the last twelve hours, according to El Nacional. Without specifying the location, the newspaper reported that at least one locale has been without power for all of the last twelve hours.
The reason for the blackouts is not yet known.
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