Maduro points to Guaidó for failed sea incursions, opposition silent

Caracas, May 7 (EFE).- Venezuela’s president pointed directly to the country’s head of parliament on Thursday for two failed maritime attacks as the opposition leader was silent while one of his top advisers acknowledged the link.

“He is capable of signing a contract to kill his political contender – who does that in the world? Sign a contract with a mercenary to kill his political contender?” Nicolás Maduro said of Juan Guaidó in an interview with state television Telesur.

“He is a criminal. He did it, he prepared my murder,” added the president.

Venezuelan authorities thwarted a maritime raid in the state of La Guaira and accused the opposition sector grouped under the figure of Guaidó, the United States and Colombia, for the operation.

On Monday they foiled another raid, this time on the coast of the state of Aragua, about two hours from Caracas.

In these two events, eight attackers died and 23 people were arrested, according to the latest information Thursday.

The US, Colombia and Guaidó himself denied their participation in the attacks almost immediately.

But one of Guaidó’s most prominent advisers, Juan José Rendón told CNN that he had signed an “exploratory” agreement with US contractor Silvercorp as part of an “exploration” to carry out actions, including seeking the possibility of capturing several government officials and “deliver(ing) them to justice,” that would lead to the overthrow of Maduro.

Rendón also said that Guaidó, who is recognized by almost 60 countries as interim president, did not sign the agreement.

But Rendón’s words gave Maduro more fuel against the opponent, whom the Attorney General’s Office is already investigating for various reasons.

“The document that is officially circulating has Juan Guaidó’s signature,” said Maduro. “We are facing the political and moral degradation of the opposition.”

Maduro also insisted that the US participated in the attacks in some way, while pointing out to diplomat James Story, whom President Donald Trump nominated as ambassador to Venezuela, as having a hand in the operation.

“He is the person in charge of this unsuccessful incursion,” he said.

Since July 2018, Story has been the interim charge d’affaires – the highest position in the absence of an ambassador – of the US embassy in Venezuela. First he held his position in Caracas and now from the US embassy in Colombia after the Venezuelan government expelled Story from the country in January 2019 when Trump recognized Guaidó as interim president.

In the US on Thursday, three Democratic senators in a letter asked the Trump administration to explain what it knew of the attempted attack.

Amidst the new accusations, Guaidó kept silent Thursday and suspended a teleconference session of parliament, which he controls with the support of 100 of the 167 deputies.

During the day, Guaidó’s team told journalists that he would issue a statement setting a position on the new elements of the case, which would include the statement of one of the two Americans arrested during the raid on Monday.

Vice President of Communication Jorge Rodríguez released a video in which can be heard a man identifying himself as Airan Berry, one of the two Americans detained in the second group that allegedly attempted to attack Venezuela, confessing to having participated in the so-called Operation Gideon, which sought to take control of the airport near Caracas in order to, among other things, take Maduro to the US.

Berry, who claims to be 41 years old and an ex-US Armed Forces member, said during the filmed interview that his mission was to go to Venezuela to “provide support” to the plans, which, he reiterated, were made under orders from Silvercorp. EFE


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