On March 21st, an alleged “terrorist cell” was arrested by Venezuelan authorities, Minister of Interior Justice and Peace Nestor Reverol announced.
Min. @NestorReverol: Ante el fracaso del ingreso por nuestra frontera de la llamada ayuda humanitaria el pasado 23Feb, queriendo violar nuestra soberanía y ante la victoria que dio el pueblo de Venezuela contra el golpe eléctrico estos grupos continúan con su espiral de violencia pic.twitter.com/FbRFh4xe3I
— MPPRIJP (@MIJPVenezuela) March 21, 2019
“Facing the failure of the entrance, through our border, of the so-called humanitarian aid last Feb. 23, wanting to violate our sovereignty and facing the victory that the people of Venezuela gave against the electric attacks, these groups continue with their spiral of violence.”
According to the Venezuelan official, the terrorist cell “would have hired Colombian and Central American mercenaries to attack the lives of political leaders, military men, magistrates of the TSJ (Supreme Justice Court) and to carry out acts of sabotage to public services to create chaos in the Bolivarian society.”
US-Proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido’s chief of staff – Roberto Marrero was also arrested as part of the operation.
“The citizen Marrero Borgas is directly responsible for the organization of these criminal groups. A batch of weapons of war, cash in foreign currency was seized from him during a search conducted at his residence,” Reverol said.
The arrest warrant for Marrero was also published by the Public Ministry.
#COMUNICADO El Ministerio Público, en coordinación con el SEBIN, llevó a cabo este jueves la detención del ciudadano Roberto Marrero, en cumplimiento de una orden de aprehensión emanada del Tribunal Especial Primero de Primera Instancia en Funciones de Control #21Mar pic.twitter.com/Kb5mWFhB7j
— MinPublicoVE (@MinpublicoVE) March 21, 2019
This was also repeated by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in an address on the same day.
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) March 21, 2019
TeleSUR reported this over Twitter, after the outlet’s official account was restored after being restricted for approximately 1 day in a clear sign of censorship.
Guaido gave a speech on the arrest, saying that whoever gave the order to “kidnap” Marrero made “another big mistake,” and that there would be repercussions. He also claimed that the arrest showed Maduro’s “weakness.”
Quien tomó la decisión de mandar a secuestrar a @ROBERTOMARRERO ha cometido otro gran error. Además de maldad en la acción y torpeza política, hubo torpeza en el procedimiento: creían que Roberto vivía allí y, en este tipo de acciones, un error como ése es irreparable.Y lo saben pic.twitter.com/8am8rygrSM
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) March 21, 2019
In a continuing diplomatic push, on March 20th, Colombian President Ivan Duque and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera gave a joint statement in Santiago, Chile.
They called for the rule of law, democracy to be reinstated in Venezuela, they further called for the protection of human rights.
In a response, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded with the release of an official government statement.
El Gobierno de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela rechaza contundentemente las insolentes e injerencistas declaraciones emitidas hoy 21 de marzo de 2019 por Iván Duque y Sebastián Piñera en Santiago de Chile. Lean con detenimiento este Comunicado Oficial: pic.twitter.com/cm3hSWeBkd
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 21, 2019
The communique condemned the claims by the Colombian and Chilean leaders and criticized them for only looking after their economic interests with the US and disregarding not only the Venezuelan people, but the people of their respective countries as well.
“Duque and Piñera invoke international law when they supported groups of shock and tried from the Colombian border to force the entry of a supposed humanitarian assistance, violating any rule of the United Nations system that regulates the matter.
Undoubtedly, the Governments of Colombia and Chile, used as satellites of Donald Trump, have become an instrument for aggression against the Venezuelan people and its institutions, in virtue of which they face the repudiation of their Peoples as the firm decision of the revolutionary people of Venezuela to fight against the opprobrium, the threat and the interference.”
Earlier on March 21st, Jorge Arreaza also announced the approval by the UN Human Rights Council of a Venezuela resolution on the negative social impact of unilateral coercive measures like sanctions by the US.
¡Atención! En Ginebra el Consejo de DDHH/ONU aprobó por amplia mayoría resolución presentada por Venezuela en nombre del @MNOAL_NAM sobre efectos negativos de las medidas coercitivas unilaterales (sanciones) en los DDHH ¡Otra victoria del Multilateralismo y la Diplomacia de Paz! pic.twitter.com/djBBhugnC4
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 21, 2019
“Attention! In Geneva the Council of HUMAN RIGHTS/UN approved by a large majority resolution submitted by Venezuela on behalf of the @MNOAL_NAM [The non-aligned movement in Venezuela] negative effects of unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) ON human Rights Another victory of multilateralism And Peace diplomacy!”
The diplomatic push is not relenting, however, Guaido and Western media started claiming that the number of countries that support the Venezuelan opposition is now 60, up from the previously perpetuated 50.
El dictador y su régimen usurpador son quienes se esconden en la oscuridad. Nosotros contamos con el Pueblo movilizado, el respaldo de más de 60 países y con nuestra Constitución.
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) March 21, 2019
“The dictator and his usurper regime are the ones who hide in the darkness. We have the mobilized People, the support of more than 60 countries and our Constitution. Attention to the upcoming strategic announcements on the acceleration of the #OperaciónLibertad”
Guaido also continues to call for the people to rise up and organize riots against the government, but neither the mainstream media nor any other reports claim there are any active revolts or riots, despite the attempts at agitation and propaganda.
In terms of propaganda, reports have been circulating for almost 7 days of Maduro organizing paramilitary groups and people’s militias to thwart any attempts by the opposition to organize the people.
Another attempt to villainize the Maduro government began on March 20th when CNN reported on “new evidence” that suggested Venezuelan police pilot Oscar Perez was murdered.
He was accused of stealing a helicopter and using it to attack the Venezuelan supreme court in 2017. Initially it was reported that he died in a clash with the police, but the cited new evidence suggested he was captured and executed.
Why this evidence appeared more than 1 year after the incident is no secret, and it is simply used to perpetuated the narrative of the “evil Maduro regime.”
As part of the Trump administration’s pressure on the Maduro government, the US has not imported a single barrel of oil from Venezuela in the week to March 15th. This marked the first time such an occurrence had taken place. According to EIA’s monthly data dating back to 1973, the U.S. has never skipped a month without importing crude oil from Venezuela.
In terms of military movements, TeleSUR reported that Venezuelan army deserters were abandoned by the Colombian government.
They were promised by Guaido and the US that they would receive support if they abandoned the Maduro government.
They asked Venezuelan lawmaker Juan Guaido, who had unconstitutionally auto-proclaimed himself as “Interim president” of Venezuela, to help them.
“We are adrift; we do not have the support of anybody. We want Juan Guaido to come to talk to us face to face,” said former Venezuelan Army’s second ex-sergeant, Luis Gonzalez Hernandez.
Atención a este testimonio: militares venezolanos que desertaron el 23 de febrero y huyeron a Colombia denuncian estar “a la deriva y a la espera del presidente Guaidó”. Afirman que Acnur les exige desalojar el campamento y moverse por sus propios medios: pic.twitter.com/RlV0MdxbRi
— Misión Verdad (@Mision_Verdad) March 16, 2019
“Attention to this testimony: Venezuelan military officers who deserted on Feb. 23 and fled to Colombia reported being “adrift and waiting for President Guaido.” They claim that UNHCR requires them to leave the camp and move on their own.”
“Most of us do not have relatives in Colombia, we were the breadwinner of our families in Venezuela and now we are here with nothing.”
Regardless, according to the Colombian government, more than 1,000 Venezuelan armed forces fled across the border to Colombia.
Largely, it appears that the Venezuelan military still supports the Maduro government, and many units were placed around key infrastructure in the country. The aim is to avoid any future situations similar to the weeklong blackouts that took place.
Despite the continuing US and allies’, as well as Venezuelan opposition’s efforts to destabilize Venezuela, it appears that the push is losing steam and that the Maduro government is managing to somewhat consolidate control.
Whether that would warrant a military intervention, since more “indirect” means are proving to be ineffective is still up to speculation.
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