Venezuela alleges ‘Chilean hand’ in drone attack on Maduro

SANTIAGO – The Chilean government has rejected “very serious and slanderous insinuations and threats” by a Venezuelan minister over the alleged connection of Chilean Embassy in Caracas with a failed attack on President Nicolás Maduro last month.

Demanding an investigation by the foreign governments, the Venezuelan government said Monday that diplomats from three Latin American countries may have played a role in an attempt to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro.

Embassy staff from Colombia, Chile and Mexico working in Caracas either lent support or were willing to assist those carrying out the attack, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said.

“I’m asking myself if the ambassador of Chile is ready for a polygraph test. Chile must explain who was that official who was supposed to help this criminal escape. Colombia and Mexico also have to explain who was supposed to facilitate the escape of [the suspect],” Rodriguez told a press conference in Caracas.

According to the minister, the citizen Henryberth Emmanuel Rivas Vivas alias “morfeo”, arrested on Saturday morning in the wake of the attack, said that after the failed attempt he contacted a person who allegedly told him to move to the Chilean embassy in Caracas to help him out of the country.

“I arrived at the Chilean embassy and it was closed,” said the detainee and said that he was ordered to go to the home of the alleged person of the Chilean embassy who would help him and that he would be located in an area of upper middle class in Caracas.

“We are ready to present confessions made by the detainees to the foreign ministers of Colombia, Chile and Mexico,” Rodriguez said, urging them to investigate any role their diplomats may have had.

Two drones loaded with explosives exploded nearby as Maduro spoke at an outdoor military ceremony on Aug. 4. Maduro was unhurt, but Venezuelan officials say incident was an attempt to assassinate him. Seven soldiers got injured in the attack.

The minister also reported the detention of three new suspects linked to the attack.

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How Chile responded?

Chilean foreign ministry on Monday summoned the Venezuelan ambassador in Santiago, Arévalo Méndez, for the first time at the Chancellery headquarters, where he was delivered a note of protest by the Secretary General of Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Patricio Torres.

The document “expresses in the most energetic way the Chilean government’s rejection of the very serious and slanderous insinuations and threats made by the government of Nicolás Maduro”.

“Chile considers the threats expressed by the Venezuelan Government against the integrity of our diplomatic representation in Caracas to be of the highest severity.

“We urge the Government of Venezuela to act with responsibility and sanity and to withdraw its slanderous insinuations against our country,” the statement reads.

The ministry stressed that Chile is a country that respects international law and assured that the Executive of Maduro “lacks moral integrity to raise slanders” against the South American country.

Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero, in a statement, called on the Government of Venezuela “to resolve through dialogue and negotiations the tragedy in which it has plunged its country and its people, and that has created the largest migration of desperate citizens in the entire history of the hemisphere.”

More than two million Venezuelans are teeming into neighboring countries, fleeing a collapsing economy under President Nicolas Maduro, with falling oil prices and mismanagement leading to shortages of food and medicine.

Almost two-thirds of Venezuelans surveyed in a university study published in February said they had lost on average 11 kilograms in body weight last year, and 87% were assessed to live in poverty.

Concern over diplomats’ security

Ampuero indicated that “this [threat] is particularly serious because it means putting at risk the integrity and security of the Chilean diplomatic representatives and also of the Venezuelan guests who are there”.

In addition, he pointed out that “the Government of Chile has had a very clear policy, crystal clear, with respect to Venezuela and has stressed that it believes that the solution for Venezuela lies in dialogue, negotiation, alternatives that are entirely peaceful for conversation among Venezuelans and that have the support of the international community and that have no link with violence whatsoever”.

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Colombia, and Mexico too rejected Rodriguez’ accusations, adding their concerns that such statements threaten the security of diplomats in Venezuela.

“The Embassy of Colombia and the 15 consulates accredited in the sister nation have no other interest than working in coordination for the assistance and protection of our nationals,” Colombia said in a statement,

Mexico, while seeking a diplomatic solution to Venezuela’s crisis, also rejected “the unfounded accusations”.