Caracas, May 3 (efe-epa).- The head of Venezuela’s Constituent National Assembly (ANC), Diosdado Cabello, reported Sunday that eight people died and at least two were arrested in a foiled maritime invasion near Caracas on the weekend.
“Eight people dead and two arrested who were in the operation … An action by mercenaries, a strike against the institutions of our country, an incursion that surely the right will justify,” said Cabello from the headquarters of the ANC, a legislative body made up only of supporters of the Nicolas Maduro government.
Cabello, who is also vice president of the governing PSUV party, said that when the “mercenaries” – who he claimed were trying to invade Venezuela in La Guaira state – arrived on the coast near the capital, an exchange of gunfire erupted, presumably with Venezuelan security forces.
“When they arrived at the coast there were confrontations and we don’t know if there are people who sank or swam elsewhere, so we’re saying that, so far, there are eight dead,” Cabello said, insisting that the operation is still under way.
Regarding the detainees, he said that one of them, a Venezuelan, admitted to having worked with the US Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency expelled from the country in 2005 and which the so-called Bolivarian Revolution in power in Venezuela accuses of promoting drug trafficking and coups d’etat in Latin America.
Among the materiel seized from the alleged invaders, Cabello said, are vehicles “on which to mount machineguns,” assault rifles, a Peruvian identity document and items from a military uniform bearing the US flag.
The ANC “roundly rejects … (the fact) that the US and Colombian governments continue trying to undermine the basis of Venezuelan institutions by actively participating in coups d’etat … and activities that are being financed by drug trafficking,” Cabello said.
Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol had reported before Cabello’s statement that a group of “terrorist mercenaries” traveling from Colombia tried to enter the country, whereupon Venezuelan authorities launched a “thorough search by land, sea and air” to capture everyone involved.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino on Sunday expressed absolute loyalty to Maduro, flanked by other military leaders, on behalf of the country’s armed forces.
The minister said that in the coming hours new military maneuvers would be launched all across the country “placing emphasis on the entire coastal region” to locate any other “conspiratorial cells.”
He reiterated the government line that the alleged invaders were “organized and trained in Colombia and … intended to disembark with war materiel on the coast … of La Guaira state,” adding that the threat had been “neutralized.”
Padrino also said that some of the military hardware seized from the invaders had been used in the brief military uprising on April 30, 2019, that was supported by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as the interim president of Venezuela by almost 60 countries around the world.