President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela was the subject of a reported assassination attempt yesterday. He alleged US involvement indirectly but details remain incomplete.
Assassination Attempt on Maduro?
Yesterday, Venezuela premier Nicolas Maduro was presiding over a military demonstration when an explosion could be heard. Reports have stated that there were drones involved as well though they were disabled prior to reaching Maduro. The explosion was thought to be a car bomb initially, but reports suggested later that a building nearby was pouring out smoke and that the explosion was likely the result of a bomb in a nearby building.
Protection services rushed to Maduro, placing protective shields (they appeared to be Kevlar sheets) around him until he could be removed from the scene. While Maduro came away unharmed, military members in attendance were hurt and one killed in the attack.
Here is a video of the event from CNN:
Following the incident, Maduro was able to determine the source within three hours. Maduro proclaimed that a combination of Colombian sources and those from the US state of Florida were responsible for the attack. While I have no information to the contrary, it strikes me as overwhelmingly fast to reach such a specific conclusion.
Maduro was a little restrained in his determination of cause, falling short of accusing the US government directly. The Colombian officials were not spared. Maduro specifically called out Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos blaming him for undermining Venezuela’s democracy.
This probably won’t help US-Venezuelan relations and may make Venezuela tourist visas even harder to obtain.
While he left US President Donald Trump out of the official planning of the attack and assassination attempt, he called on the President directly to address terrorists in his own country who he claims orchestrated the attempt. Typically, in this sort of situation, I would have expected Maduro to suggest the CIA was involved in some way, but Maduro instead suggested that it was the result of Venezuelan expatriates in the sunshine state that coordinated activities.
President Donald Trump was silent on about the event on Twitter, his preferred medium for speaking out on issues. Instead, he addressed concerns on tariffs with China, offered to “meet or not meet” with Iran, covered a campaign event in Ohio for which he appeared and this morning has addressed fake news regarding the ongoing Mueller investigation. Trump has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement of any US party for the attack, he hasn’t yet acknowledged it has taken place.
In recent weeks, following the controversial election that kept Maduro in power, the US Administration has returned to financial sanctions to force change. Vice President Pence has also voiced his concern over the election process and human rights violations alleged in the South American country.
What Does This Mean for Venezuela?
Tourism to the South American country has been ill-advised for some time. I don’t believe that things will improve for some time even if there is a change from Maduro. It’s a shame that both Matthew and I (who have a great desire to see Venezuela) will have to table the matter even longer as the political situation continues to deteriorate.
While I would never support the assassination of a sitting president, it is clear by opposition forces that they will do what they feel is necessary to depose Maduro. Since taking office, the Venezuelan Bolivar has experienced the highest inflation rates in the world. When I was considering going to Venezuela 16 months ago, the price of a café con leche coffee (the metric Bloomberg has installed to measure true inflation of a basic good) has soared from 1,800 Bolivars ($.50) to 2 million.
Some are now trading in eggs due to their tangible value and portability instead of bills at all. Millions of Venezuelans have fled to nearby Colombia which is now bursting at the seams. Nothing in Venezuela is certain at the moment and if Maduro were to be deposed, either by force or stepping down from his role, the power vacuum would create a less stable environment initially. When Venezuela will return to the economic power they once were, holding the world’s largest crude reserves, is anyone’s guess.
Who do you think could be responsible for the attack on Maduro? What will it take for him to step down? Would a replacement of leadership solve the problems of the country?