Caracas, July 27, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro warned about “last minute terrorist threats” from the outgoing Iván Duque government in Colombia.
During a ceremony to designate new military commands on Tuesday, Maduro called the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) to remain vigilant in the face of new violent plots allegedly being prepared in the neighboring country.
“Alert, always be alert, to protect the peace of the republic, last minute terrorist threats are coming from Bogotá against our beloved Homeland,” denounced the mandatary in a live broadcast from the Fuerte Tiuna military base in Caracas.
The Venezuelan president likewise urged the police, intelligence and counter-intelligence bodies to be ready to counter-attack terrorist plans and defend “these times of recovery and growth that our beloved Venezuela is living.”
“There is a conspiracy with terrorists and traitors born in Venezuela to harm our Homeland, but no crime is perfect and we will know how to neutralize, defeat and persecute the criminals who conspire against (the nation’s) stability,” stressed Maduro without offering further details about the alleged plots.
Maduro’s warning came during a ceremony to partly renew national and regional military commands. “These new designations will strengthen the Bolivarian National Armed Force’s institutionality as well as its capacity for the integral defense of our territory and our people,” he stated.
Admiral Aníbal José Brito Hernández was appointed Commander General of the Navy while Major General Santiago Alejandro Infante Itriago was named Commander General of Aviation. President Maduro also chose Major Generals Sidney Ramón Lázaro Partidas and Manuel Enrique Castillo Rengifo as chiefs of the Integral Strategic Defence Regions (REDI) for the Llanos and Andean region, respectively.
Venezuela is divided into 24 Integral Defence Zones (ZODI, one for each state) and seven Integral Strategic Defence Regions (REDI). The Venezuelan chief-of-state ratified the military chiefs for the Capital Region, Central Region and Eastern Region.
The Venezuelan government has repeatedly accused Bogotá of carrying out sabotage acts against the water, electricity and oil infrastructure to destabilize the nation. In April, President Maduro warned that his Colombian counterpart Duque was behind a plot to sow unrest on the countries’ shared border through the targeted killing of Venezuelan security forces and new attacks to damage public services.
Maduro reiterated the warning in July stating that Duque was seeking “revenge” after losing the presidential election against leftist candidate Gustavo Petro. He claimed to have the evidence “in hand” of the outgoing Colombian mandatary’s terrorist plans.
“Iván Duque is leaving, saying goodbye forever and going to the dustbin of history but he continues activating plans, we have the information in hand for terrorist attacks against the Venezuelan electrical system, refineries and against Venezuelan political and military leaders”, he alerted at the time.
National Assembly (AN) deputy Diosdado Cabello issued a similar warning. On Monday, the official accused former Caracas police chief Iván Simonovis of being in charge of new terrorist plans financed by the Duque administration. In 2009, Simonovis was convicted to a 30-year prison sentence for his responsibility in the killing of civilians during the 2002 coup against the Hugo Chávez government. In 2014, he was placed on house arrest but later fled the country in May 2019.
“Simonovis has been commissioned to turn some Venezuelans into mercenaries and damage our country’s electrical and water infrastructure,” Cabello said during a press conference.
Caracas broke off diplomatic ties with Bogotá in February 2019 after Duque supported efforts to violate Venezuelan borders under the guise of delivering “humanitarian aid.” The failed operation was led by opposition frontman US-backed Juan Guaidó following his self-proclamation as Venezuela’s “interim president.”
The Bolivarian government has likewise pointed the finger at its neighbor country’s responsibility over other violent endeavors, including an assassination attempt against President Maduro in August 2018, the botched mercenary invasion codenamed “Operation Gideon” in May 2020 as well as the incursion of irregular armed groups along its porous 2,200-kilometer border, with the most recent reported aggression taking place in January.
For its part, Colombia’s incoming Petro government, which takes office on August 9, has committed to reestablishing diplomatic and economic ties with Caracas starting by restoring normality at the border. Maduro welcomed the initiative and urged Bogotá to work towards peace and prosperity for both nations.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.