Venezuelanalysis.com note: Last Saturday 25 August an explosion resulting from a gas leak occurred in Venezuela’s largest oil refinery Amuay, which at the time of writing has killed 48 people and injured over 100 more. It is one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the history of Venezuela’s oil industry. An official investigation has been launched into the tragedy.
While President Hugo Chavez urged for avoidance of speculation on the cause of the incident until conclusions are reached by the investigation, opposition politicians and media immediately launched claims that the explosion was due to lack of government investment and maintenance. Likewise, some journalists and commentators have alleged that the explosion could be the result of deliberate sabotage in order to damage the electoral campaign of Hugo Chavez ahead of presidential elections in October.
Here, Venezuelanalysis.com has translated an article from the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) examining the circumstances before and after the tragedy that have been fuelling speculation over possible sabotage at Amuay. However, the official investigation over the disaster will likely take at least a month, according to Venezuela authorities.
The Most Unusual “Coincidences” of the Amuay Tragedy
By AVN / YKVE Mundial
This information was sent by the citizen J.W. Wekker Vega, collected from the social network Facebook. Below is the content of that information:
1. Luis Vicente Leon and Oscar Schemel [of private Venezuelan polling firms Datanalisis and Hinterlaces, respectively], despite being opposition supporters, have said in the last few months that Chavez’s victory [in the presidential elections on 7 October] would only be reverted by “catastrophic,” “extraordinary” events that generate “collective commotion” and politically affect Chavez.
2. An “amateur” with a professional camera, at 2.00am [on the night of the explosion], was alone in the surrounds of the Amuay refinery, unusual because people don’t pass through there; and he captured the first explosion, which was broadcast “exclusively” by Globovision [a pro opposition TV channel] in record time.
3. At the same time as the explosion at Amuay, three government websites were hacked, including the CADIVI [Venezuela foreign exchange commission] website.
4. The deaths of sixteen members of the National Guard, if well observed, aren’t explained in the media. The presence of sixteen National Guard members at the refinery at that time isn’t explained. And the reason the National Guard victims of the tragedy stayed up overnight in the refinery’s Guard Command was to guard the installations, given that an important number of sabotages in the refinery have been reported and denounced in recent years.
5. Only minutes after the tragedy, thousands of Blackberry instant messages were spread as much by users as by automatic senders (software), that placed information in emails and other media about the situation via spam.
6. The tragedy was immediately treated as a political issue, as many opposition leaders appeared in the public sphere to launch direct attacks on Chavez and PDVSA.
7. The portrayal of the event on an international scale is unprecedented. On few occasions has this type of coverage been seen for events like this.
8. A few hours after the tragedy, Blackberry instant messages and information circulated in media and social networks that generated uncertainty over the availability of fuel. People were incited to head en masse to fill up their tanks, and lack of supply is spoken of openly. This looks like a strategy to generate chaos, and a call for calm has been issued, as the country has other refineries and a good reserve of fuel stores.