In Venezuela, 32 people have been arrested, including civilians and military personnel, accused of “treason” for allegedly “conspiring” against the government of Nicolas Maduro. According to the accusations, those arrested had planned up to five attempts to overthrow the government, including the assassination of the president. For this purpose, they would have counted with the support of the United States, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses them of espionage, terrorism and arms trafficking, among other crimes, in addition to attempting to assassinate the head of state. In these conspiracy plots, according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, agents of the DEA and the U.S. CIA were allegedly involved.
“All the detainees have been convicted: they have confessed and revealed information about the plans against the majority of the Venezuelan people and the democratic society,” said the Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, in a statement to the press. “There will be no legal, juridical considerations against any of these subjects”, added the highest authority of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The operation is still open
According to official information, the alleged conspiracies took place between May 2023 and the beginning of this year. In this sense, the operation is still open, since in addition to the 32 detainees, arrest warrants have been issued for 11 more people, including journalists and human rights activists, as well as military personnel who are out of the country.
Another person who was apparently the target of the attack plans was Vladimir Padrino, Venezuela’s Minister of Defense. The Minister himself expressed his opinion on the matter, claiming that the information on these conspiracies was kept secret because it coincided with the conversations between his country and the United States, which led to the release of detainees in Venezuela in the midst of the easing of the sanctions imposed by Washington.
Likewise, the Venezuelan government accused the “Venezuelan extreme right” of being behind these attempts. President Maduro requested “maximum punishment” for the accused, as well as the demotion and expulsion from the army of the arrested soldiers.
Constant conspiracies without evidence
The truth is that the Venezuelan government is constantly denouncing alleged conspiracies, the most recent denunciation being launched by Maduro himself on January 15, with the implication of agents who had allegedly intervened from Colombian territory.
Since 2013, when Nicolas Maduro became head of state, these denunciations have been systematic. Although no conclusive evidence has ever been presented, the Venezuelan government’s maneuver is repeated in a cyclical manner. In most cases, these alleged plans are blamed on Venezuelan opposition groups with the support of sectors in Colombia, the United States and, on some occasions, countries of the European Union.
The only thing that stands out, on this occasion, is that prosecutor Saab also presented a video in which one of the accused linked an alleged conspiracy to former Deputy Maria Corina Machado, opposition candidate for this year’s presidential elections, who in October won the internal ballots with more than 90% of the votes.
Machado faces a confusing situation: despite being designated as the opposition candidate for the presidential elections at the end of this year, she is disqualified in Venezuela from running for public office, pending clarification in the Supreme Court of Justice.
Although the prosecutor’s office has announced that “there will be more arrests”, it has not been clarified whether these could include Machado’s arrest, something that could jeopardize the process of détente and easing of sanctions against Venezuela.
Private companies ask for greater flexibility in penalties
Fedecamaras, Venezuela’s largest employers’ association, yesterday called for the “continued easing” of sanctions, among them those imposed by the United States, which last October lifted some of its restrictions on the country, in sectors such as oil and gas, for a period of six months that expires in April.
“We are going to continue insisting that the whole sanctioning scheme must be made more flexible”, said the president of the employers’ association, Adan Celis, in a press conference, who emphasized that these measures have seriously impoverished the country.
To illustrate his words, the business leader made public a survey among the association’s affiliates in which 81% of the businessmen recognize that foreign sanctions have affected their businesses in the private sector. These effects have been most serious in sectors such as construction, agriculture, real estate services, commerce and tourism.
Celis stated that, if the sanctions continue to be relaxed and reforms are made in the Venezuelan legal framework to attract more investments, the private sector will show growth of 10.6% this year over 2023.