Coinciding with the announcement by the CNE that the legislative elections will finally be held on December 6, this week the government reissued many of the conspiracy claims made in the last months, and produced some new ones.
As in the past most of the claims made by government officials and public media this week attempt to show the supposed links between the Venezuelan opposition and paramilitaries, common crime, and of course, the Empire.
This past week of hectic conspiracy theorizing by the government is a preview of the next months of intense electoral campaigning.
The Saleh, Ledezma, D’Alta, Bolívar, Guarimba Connection
President Maduro has been insisting this week that he has evidence that the murder of Adriana Urquiola Pérez was part of a plot by the opposition.
Urquiola, a sign interpreter for hearing impaired, was killed by a gun shot in a confusing event during an opposition protests in March 2014. Urquiola had no connection with the protest and was getting of a bus that had to stop because the road was blocked by protestors when she was shot. Opposition protestors claimed that Urquiloa had been killed by pro-government colectivos that had attacked the guarimba with fire-arms several times during that day.
Maduro instead first blamed the circumstances created by the guarimbas for the death. But lately has been arguing that the murder was an action directly funded by opposition leaders with the aim of destabilizing his government. The link seems to be the suspected murderer Jhonny Bolívar, who was arrested in Colombia and has been deported to Venezuela. Maduro claimed that Bolívar is linked to Leopoldo D’Alta who had been a member of the “ultra-right NGO” Foro Penal –the NGO has denied that D’Alta was ever linked to them.- Also, D’Alta apparently worked for jailed opposition leader Antonio Ledezma when he was Mayor of Caracas, this, for Marudo, stablishing a clear link between the opposition and D’Alta.
Maduro claims to have evidence that Bolívar killed Urquiola, that he is linked to D’Alta, and that D’Alta is the link between the whole plot and Ledezma. It’s all part of ongoing, presumably secret investigations, but Maduro explained that the attorney’s office had granted him “special permission” to make the findings made so far public because, he argued, “it is my responsibility to protect Venezuela from these violent, extremist, guarimberos, terrorist, and murderous groups, whatever I say about them with all the information I have is too little, (…) we are dealing with monsters.”
In his weekly public television show “En Contacto con Maduro,” the president showed a video with part of “all the information” he has. The video (see below) stablishes what it calls “The Guarimba Connection,” and is subtitled with the names of those supposedly linked to the plot: Antonio Ledezma, Lorent Saleh, Leopoldo D’Alta, and Jhonny Bolivar. Saleh is shown in what appears to be a conversation via Skype saying that “not much is needed, only a few people throwing rocks and burning tires.” At one point he says: “pa-pa-pa-pa-pa.” The editors of the video, so as to leave no doubt of how that onomatopoeia should be understood, cut to images of people using firearms during protests. Then Saleh says to the unknown interlocutor that Leopoldo D’Alta will contact him. Saleh describes D’Alta as a lawyer who worked for the Chacao municipality police and also, “worked with Ledezma.” The video adds that D’Alta traveled with Ledezma to Colombia in 2011 and “met Álvaro Uribe.” A picture of D’Alta walking behind Ledezma is also shown. Then, the video cuts to images of the arrest of Jhonny Bolívar in Colombia by the Interpol. The video also claims that the first phone call Bolívar made after his arrest was to D’Alta. The video ends with pictures of Ledezma, Saleh and D’alta crossed with the word “capturado,” and then five more blanked pictures with the words “others linked that are still to be captured.”
The Primero Justicia New York Imperial Connection
Accusations that opposition leaders, mainly from the party Primero Justicia, met in New York with their imperial overlords to receive “instructions” have also been repeated this week by several government officials.
The claim seems to have been first made by Jorge Rodríguez during a meeting with PSUV candidates to the party’s primaries:
“They went to New York, to the imperialist high meeting [cumbre], to receive instructions,” said Rodriguez. “Not even in its darkest moments Venezuela had such a defeatist and sold-out [entreguista y vendido] sector as this Venezuelan right. The only sickness suffered by the democracy of this country is that of the corrupt rightist leadership,” concluded Rodriguez.
The next day Disodado Cabello insisted on the claim during his public TV show “Con el Mazo Dando”:
“We are still lacking a rational and nationalist opposition, that party of fascists [Primero Justicia] held its meeting in New York, they went to the United States to discuss problems of Venezuela, but what they really did is to go there to receive instruction form that sector of imperialism that does not want the peace of the country, they went there to kneel down [to imperialism],” said Cabello.
Crime and the opposition
Cabello then continued his show making more concrete accusations against “the right”:
“In Miami there are sector of the right plotting the actions after the international pretension [visit?] of the Spanish ex-president Felipe González, and [the end] of Leopoldo López’s hunger strike. These actions will seek to generate violence with the help of paramilitaries, in order to ask for the liberation of the leader of Voluntad Popular [Leopoldo López.]”
Cabello also linked the opposition with past and coming events that more naïve observers perhaps would blame on common crime:
“[they] will continue with their actions of support to crime groups, especially in the Cota 905 of Caracas, Maracay, Valencia, and Guárico, with the support of paramilitaries and the Colombian ex-president Álvaro Uribe. (…) They will create a brigade to infiltrate the barrios and popular sectors, using the popular networks set by Leopoldo López, with the aim of stablishing populist programs and giving people three month long working contracts, but it will all be a lie.”
The economic war: Update from the front
Also this week, president Maduro was busy fighting the economic war he claims is being waged by the enemies of the revolution against the Venezuelan people.
Maduro signed three agreements with Iran in the areas of commerce, science, and health. The president stressed that the main agreement was, according to the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias (AVN), over an “exchange of methodology, techniques, and policies to face the economic war in the country, which is characterized by hoarding, speculation, and smuggling of basic products, and is orchestrated by financial sectors and business men linked to parties of the right.”
Finally this, form a piece by Alexander Ulmer published by Reuters on the crime surge affecting the oil industry:
“PDVSA says it is up against "sabotage" from political enemies who see damaging the oil industry as a means to weaken President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government. The company points to measures, including the arrest of employees for the Monagas theft and the deployment of the army to protect installations in that state, as proof Venezuela is taking oil crime seriously.”