During a press conference this morning, Colombian authorities provided an update on yesterday’s deadly car bombing at the Santander Police Academy in southern Bogota. The attack, which left 21 people dead and dozens injured, is the worst to rock the city in 15 years.
During the press conference, Minister of Defense Guillermo Botero provided information on the activities of the suspected bomber over the past several years. The authorities claim that the suspect, whose name was José Aldemar Rojas Rodríguez, was a member of the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Front, ELN) guerrilla group.
Botero also said that starting in 2011, Rojas made at least one trip into Venezuela where he trained ELN members “and others” on explosives handling.
Below, Botero’s comment (starting at the 0:15 mark):
Botero: In 2011, he [Rojas] continued to give specialist courses [on explosives] in Fortula, Arauca, [and] moving–starting at that time–into Venezuela to teach ELN
members in that country and other people how to handle explosives.
The ELN has long been known to operate inside Venezuela, including that the guerrillas control mining and smuggling operations along the border with Colombia. However, given the high profile of the bombing, the ELN-Venezuela dynamic is likely to come under increased scrutiny from Colombian authorities.
During the same press conference, a journalist asked the officials to clarify if there was any indication that Venezuelan officials were somehow involved int he bombing. Botero unequivocally denied that suggestion, while attorney general Nestor Humberto Martinez Neira suggested that Colombia was exploring the possibility that ELN heads “act” from inside Venezuela.
Below, the exchange:
Journalist: Are there any indications, or evidence, or do you suspect that Venezuelan government officials could have played a role planning this attack yesterday?
Botero: The Ministry of Defense does not have any indication about that specific point. I say that with full and absolute clarity.
Martinez: The attorney general’s office does not have at this time any evidence that could let us make a statement of responsibility [implicating Venezuelan officials]. But we do have information that we’re managing, with the goal of establishing the presence of guerrilla commanders from the [ELN] who act from inside Venezuelan territory.
PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello reacted to the alleged Venezuelan link to the Bogota bombing by distancing the Maduro regime from the attack, saying:
Today the Colombian bourgeois and oligarchy along with their Venezuelan lackeys are trying to link Venezuela with terrorist acts in Colombia (…) We have nothing to do with that war. We condemn all acts of terrorism and raise the flags of peace.
“Cabildos Abiertos” Show No Sign of Waning
The opposition-organized cabildos abiertos [roughly, “open-air town hall meeting] that have been taking place throughout the countries in recent days show no sign of waning, as more Venezuelans took to the streets of their cities to attend the events today.
The video below shows the cabildo in Los Teques, Miranda state. The protesters are chanting “Fuera Maduro!” [Maduro out!”] while they wait for opposition figures to arrive to give speeches:
The protesters later sang the national anthem:
More shots of the crowd:
In Lecherias, Anzoategui state, demonstrators stayed at a cabildo into the evening hours:
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