Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro has laid the blame for yesterday’s alleged assassination attempt against him on an international ‘far right’ plot. According to him, the conspiracy was made up of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Venezuelan exiles living in Colombia, and in the United States, as well as opposition groups in Venezuela,. Maduro then called on the Trump administration to “fight the terrorist groups that commit attacks in peaceful countries in our continent, in this case, Venezuela.” Maduro offered no evidence to support his accusations.
Yesterday, at a military event in Caracas, Maduro was giving a speech when the alleged assassination attempt, by two explosive drones. Firefighters who were at the scene, however, dispute the drone claim, contending that a gas tank explosion in an apartment near the site of the speech. Television coverage of the event, which was carried live across Venezuela, showed no signs of drones in the air, or an explosion.
Maduro remains unpopular in Venezuela, a nation still suffering through a major economic crisis that is largely his doing. Opposition groups are often accused of plotting to assassinate government officials, or planning a coup. Maduro’s government uses these claims to justify crackdowns on the opposition groups, and the public in general. Adding Colombia, and Venezuelan exiles living abroad is a new twist. Placing responsibility for the supposed attack on external opposition groups, and the government of a neighboring nation could signal a change in tactics for Maduro’s foundering regime. As Venezuela continues to deteriorate, and support for his government evaporates completely, Maduro could be looking to rally the country against a perceived foreign threat. That way, Venezuelans might forget about the crippling poverty at home, and focus on defeating the threat to their beloved country. The strategy is no secret, and has been used countless times in Latin America by dictators faced with deteriorating domestic conditions at home.
Unfortunately for Maduro, it fails far more often than it works.