On February 7th, a fugitive Venezuelan Colonel was shown on video confessing to ties with the CIA and Colombian officials. He was captured in January after slipping back into the country.
“Colonel Oswaldo Garcia Palomo, 54, who’d publicly professed plans for rebellion and whose welfare was the focus of international attention, is shown looking reasonably fit in a dress shirt standing against a neutral background. He described logistical support and freedom to enter and exit Colombia as he worked last year to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government,” Bloomberg reported.
La CIA estructuró un equipo de militares para realizar una operación contra la Base Aerea La Carlota y las comunicaciones de la Gran Caracas. Aquí el video con la confesión de CNEL(R) Oswaldo Valentín Garcia Palomo tras ser capturado por las autoridades venezolanas
Posted by Prensa Presidencial on Thursday, February 7, 2019
“We managed to get a very important group together,” Garcia said. He added that he spoke with a CIA agent in Tampa, Florida, who told him the U.S. was considering military action in the first quarter of 2019. Garcia said he told the agent he and his group wanted to carry out a coup without U.S. help. “Let’s resolve this ourselves, we Venezuelans,” he said.
The video was posted by Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez at a press conference in Caracas. According to him, Garcia had ties to the opposition and intended to rally soldiers to mutiny, close off the capital and overtake the presidential palace.
“We were following Mr. Garcia Palomo’s extensive operation very closely,” Rodriguez said, adding the colonel was captured on January 30 by intelligence officials who infiltrated his group. “He provided abundant testimonies that lasted hours and hours, all of which he gave voluntarily.”
Alonso Medina, Garcia’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Garcia showed signs of torture including bruises on his abdomen, cuts on his legs, and burns on his wrists. “He also told me they injected some unknown substance into his hands.’’
Meanwhile, images of alleged defectors from the Venezuelan military are circulating online:
In the early hours of February 8th, the Tienditas bridge at the Venezuelan-Colombian border remained blocked, BBC reported.
US-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido on Twitter said that everything with the delivery of humanitarian aid was going according to plan and the trucks are en route to the collection center in Cucuta.
¡Venezuela, vamos avanzando!
Ya está llegando al centro de acopio en Cúcuta el primer avance de la #AyudaHumanitaria para atender a los venezolanos más vulnerables.
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 7, 2019
NBC News reported that “over 50,000 Venezuelans cross the Simón Bolívar Bridge into Colombia on a daily basis to pick up much needed supplies including diapers, medicine and toilet paper. The families are hungry and desperate to feed their children.”
Meanwhile, Fox news cited Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command who testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7th. He said that Maduro, fearing for his own safety, has “completely surround[ed]” himself with Cuban security. “I think it’s a good sense of where the loyalty of the Venezuelan people are, that his immediate security force is made up of Cubans.”
“I don’t have that number” but “I’d say there are many,” Faller said.
Faller added that Russia and China have been involved in what intelligence officials say are measures to support Maduro’s regime. “We’ve seen reporting of Russian security forces being flown in,” he said. “China’s not been helpful in a diplomatic way, I’ll leave that to the diplomats but China’s in there and they’re involved in cyber ways that are not helpful to a democratic outcome.”
On February 6th, US National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted that the US is considering lifting sanctions on Venezuelan military officers that join the opposition’s side.
The U.S. will consider sanctions off-ramps for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido. If not, the international financial circle will be closed off completely. Make the right choice!
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 6, 2019
This was also supported by US Senator Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban descent.
If you do U.S. willing to abide by amnesty law & potentially remove sanctions.
If you don’t you be live the rest of your days as an international pariah.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 6, 2019
He also used the chance to smear Maduro’s government a bit:
Military leaders who cooperate with this sadistic tactic will be as guilty of them as Maduro
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 6, 2019
Elliot Abrams, the new US envoy on the Venezuelan crisis, said that Washington was revoking the visas of an unspecified number of members of the Constituent Assembly.
“The body has usurped many of the constitutional powers of the legitimate National Assembly and embodies Maduro’s destruction of democratic institutions,” Abrams told reporters.
He also denounced a meeting in Montevideo of ministers from more than a dozen European and Latin American countries who are seeking a mediated path to end Venezuela’s standoff.
Meanwhile, peace activists from CODEPINK arrived at John Bolton’s home on early February 5th “to deliver a symbolic indictment for his participation in war crimes against the people of Venezuela, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq.” They called for Bolton to be taken to the Hague and tried for war crimes.
5/6 Sabotaging international law, particularly the International Criminal Court, threatening sanctions and travel bans against those who cooperate with the court
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) February 5, 2019
On his side, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the early hours of February 8th shared “Open Letter to the People of the United States.” It is being signed by the free people of Venezuela and the world. It is to be delivered to the White House in the following days.
I share the "Open Letter to the People of the United States," which is being signed by the free people of Venezuela and the world. We are going to deliver it to the White House to demand respect for our inalienable right to Peace. pic.twitter.com/qtaV5SqgqC
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) February 8, 2019
The translated letter can be found on Popular Resistance.
Maduro said he planned to collect 10 million signatures against the interference of the US into Venezuela’s internal affairs.
“Today, Venezuela is united in one only cry, demanding the assault seeking the asphyxiation of our economy and society to stop,” said Maduro speaking from the Plaza Bolivar in the capital, “As well as the serious threats of military intervention in Venezuela.”
“I have just signed the petition supporting the peace, the sacred sovereignty of Venezuela, the right to independence and self-determination of the Venezuelan people. Empire, hands off Venezuela! Venezuela deserves respect,” he added.
Maduro also said that the provision of humanitarian aid was just a cover up for military plans.
“The humanitarian crisis is only a cover for the military plans of the Trump government. The whole crisis in Venezuela is that the United States imposed sanctions and imposed a financial blockade”, he stated.
On February 7th, Kremlim Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there were no plans for the potential evacuation of Nicolas Maduro from Venezuela.
“This issue has not been raised,” he said when asked about the Kremlin’s view about other countries’ proposals to guarantee immunity to the Venezuelan leader and evacuate him from the country. However, there was no exchange of views with the US.
The Kremlin spokesman assured that Moscow would try to convince its foreign partners to keep a neutral stance. “An intensive exchange of views with all foreign partners is underway,” he said. “During our contacts we stress that any foreign interference is unacceptable and that such meddling is malign and there may be catastrophic consequences of any military interference in this situation by third countries.”