The Washington Post published an interview yesterday evening with General Manuel Ricardo Christopher Figuera, the former head of the Maduro regime’s political police: the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (National Bolivarian Intelligence Service, SEBIN). The interview marks the first time that Figuera has spoken to the media since he left the country in early May following the failed uprising of April 30.
In the explosive interview, Figuera spoke to The Washington Post on a number of topics, including the role that Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Supreme Tribunal of Justice, TSJ) chief Maikel Moreno played in the April 30 uprising, as well as the activities of Colombian guerrillas and even Hezbollah in Venezuela.
According to Figuera, Moreno demanded $100 million dollars from a group of Venezuelan businessmen who were part of the failed plot to overthrow Maduro this past April 30. Under the agreement, Figuera claimed, Moreno would be allowed to remain in his position as the head of Venezuela’s apex court through the transitional period following Maduro’s removal from power.
Figuera also told the newspaper that during his time as the head of Venezuelan intelligence, he became aware that “illegal groups were operating in Venezuela with the protection of the government”, and that these groups included Colombia’s Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army, ELN) as well as Hezbollah. Echoing widespread media reports, Figuera said that the ELN is involved in illegal mining activities in Bolivar state, and that Hezbollah “had operations” in several areas in the country with the goal of financing its activities in the Middle East.
According to the same article, the plan to overthrow Maduro “was homegrown in Venezuela”, but U.S. authorities were aware of the plot.
Figuera Details Last Moments of Failed Uprising
Figuera also outlined to The Washington Post how the plot to overthrow Maduro seemingly collapsed in the days leading up to April 30.
According to Figuera, TSJ chief Moreno suggested in an April 23 meeting that he, not Juan Guaido, should become the country’s interim president following Maduro’s ouster.
Figuera also claimed that at a meeting on April 27 at the home of Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez, he and Moreno “kept looking at each other nervously”. The article continues:
Figuera called Padrino the next day to reassure himself that the defense chief was still on board. But Padrino was watching “Avengers: Endgame,” Figuera said, and “didn’t want to talk”.
On rumours that the uprising was supposed to take place on May 1 but was instead rushed forward to April 30, Figuera claimed responsibility for the move fearing “a bloodbath” on May 1. Figuera claims that Padrino Lopez asked him if he was “crazy” when he informed him of the new timetable, but that he decided to move ahead with the new plan nonetheless.
Simonovis Resurfaces in Washington, D.C.
Ivan Simonovis, Venezuela’s longest-held political prisoner, took to the spotlight again today in Washington, D.C., following his escape from Venezuela on May 16.
Simonovis announced his return to freedom with the following message:
In an interview published today by the Associated Press, Simonovis detailed his escape from Venezuela, which included a daring 75-foot rappel out of his home “in the dead of night”.
After escaping Caracas, Simonovis boarded a motorboat and headed “toward an island rendezvous with freedom”. The motor failed before Simonovis reached the island, but he was still able to make it out of Venezuela.
Simonovis told the Associated Press that his decision to escape came after the events of April 30, when he became aware of the possibility that he might be returned to prison from house arrest. He said:
The one thing I knew is that I was never going back to prison. So, I took the decision to leave my home and my homeland. The one thing I knew is that I was never going back to prison.
On his experiences with freedom after more than fifteen years in captivity, Simonovis said:
“When you’re a prisoner… you depend on someone else for everything — for eating, getting dressed, for medicine” he said. “I was paying for something the other day and I couldn’t understand the person who was talking to me, not because of the English but because I was so concentrated on what was happening.”
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