Speaking during a televised address earlier tonight, Maduro laid out his case for who he believes is responsible for Saturday’s drone attack. Throughout his speech, Maduro relied on his old script, laying blame for the attack on a vast network of conspirators that include individuals both inside and outside of Venezuela.
Maduro singled out one individual as the alleged leader of the event: National Assembly deputy for the Primero Justicia (PJ) opposition party Juan Requesens, whom he called “a psychopath”. Maduro said:
Juan Requesens, the psycopath, was the author of the attempted [assassination].
During the speech, Maduro said that “several raids” were being conducted around Caracas as he spoke targeting the individuals whom he claims were responsible for the attack. Requesens and his sister, Rafaela, were both arrested in Caracas at around this time. Their whereabouts are unknown, but they are under the custody of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the regime’s political police.
Maduro said that he was saved from death on Saturday by divine intervention, through the figure of “La Chinita”, a folk name given to the Virgin Mary in Venezuela. Maduro said:
It was La Chinita through her beautiful blessings who gave us the chance to keep on living… we are alive because that was a truly miraculous day. We were saved by a miracle, more so than from the security measures. We were born again on August 4.
Maduro also blamed “the coupist right wing”–a term he used to refer to the entire spectrum of the country’s policital opposition–for the drone attack, as well as the “Colombian oligarchy”. He also said that he had “no doubts” that the mastermind of the attack was former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, and that Bogota is “the epicenter of the conspiracy” against Venezuela.
Requesens’ arrest is not likely to be the end of this round of repression against the opposition. Through his Twitter account, PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello said that the Constituent Assembly would strip parliamentary immunity from any opposition deputy implicated in Saturday’s attack. It is not clear at this time which deputies may be targeted by the measure.
Saturday’s drone attack would constitute the first time that the flying vehicles have been used in an attempt to assassinate a head of state. Seven soldiers were injured in the twin blasts, one of which also set fire to an apartment.
Brazil Supreme Court Reverses Lower-Court Ruling, Opens Border to Venezuelans
Yesterday, a court in Brazil ruled that the country’s border with Venezuela had to be closed in Roraima state until such a time as there were “equilibrium” in the Venezuelan population there in comparison to other states in Brazil. On its face, the ruling appeared to be a response to local concerns that the state was being saturated with Venezuelan migrants looking for a better life in Brazil.
Today, Brazil’s Supreme Court struck down the ruling, and ordered the border re-opened to Venezuelan migrants effective immediately.
The apex court ruled that the border closure was a violation of both the Brazilian constitution as well as international treaties.
Moored Ferry Sinks
A ferry belonging to the state-owned Conferry company began to sankovernight while it was moored in Puerto de Guanta, in Anzoategui state. The ship, which was called Tallink Autoexpress, had been neglected for some time before it finally sank, dock workers said.
Social media users began to share images of the distressed ship at dawn this morning, claiming that the ship sank during the night:
They tell me that this is the Fallink Express [sic] ferry from Conferry sunk in Guanta. It happened overnight. It was like this at dawn.
Alfredo Santamaria, the vice president of the guild representing state dock workers, told El Universal that the ferry was no longer able to generate electricity, which prevented its water pumps from operation. Left in neglect, the ferry took too much water over the weekend and sank.
“Some workers” told the publication that once they became aware that the ship was sinking, they sent for pumps to begin to remove water from the vessel. However, the pumps that did arrive were not big enough for the job.
Santamaria also said that recovery of the ship was unlikely to occur. He explained:
What we have to try now is to float the ship, but that requires an expensive investment and good equipment, and under these circumstances it is difficult that that will happen.
Conferry was a privately-owned company until 2007, when it was taken over by the Chavez government. At the time of the takeover, Conferry had 11 ships in its fleet.
With the sinking of the Tallink Autoexpress, Conferry now only has one ship in operation.
Bellingcat Publishes Summary, Analysis of Drone Attack
This morning, Bellingcat published a summary and analysis of Saturday’s drone attack, with my collaboration.
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