Opposition Lawmaker Borges Named in Drone Bombing Investigation, Arrest Warrant Issued

The ex-National Assembly president is currently living in Bogota, Colombia.

By Paul Dobson
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Julio Borges is a right wing leader and parliamentary deputy. (Raul Arboleda / AFP)
Julio Borges is a right wing leader and parliamentary deputy. (Raul Arboleda / AFP)

Merida, August 9, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Parliamentary Deputy Julio Borges is being sought by Venezuelan police for his alleged role in the drone bomb assassination attempt against President Nicolas Maduro last Saturday.

He is the highest-profile figure to be implicated in the attack so far, after being named in numerous alleged confessions of those already arrested.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court opened the way for his arrest and trial Wednesday, ordering a warrant to be issued and denying the need for a preliminary hearing for possible cause on the basis of existing evidence provided by the Public Prosecution.

“There exist elements which implicate [Borges] (..) for the crimes of continued public incitement, treason, and frustrated intentional homicide,” the top court said in a statement.

The Supreme Court similarly authorized the issuing of arrest warrants for seven members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces for their purported role in the attack, accusing them of “terrorism” and “financing terrorism.”

Borges’ parliamentary immunity was removed by the nation’s Constituent Assembly on Wednesday, alongside that of fellow First Justice deputy Juan Requesens, who was detained by authorities in Caracas Tuesday in relation to the terrorist attack.

Julio Borges, who was president of the National Assembly (AN) 2017-2018, is currently in Bogota, Colombia, where he has reportedly resided for many months.

Borges has claimed that the drone attack, which has been widely condemned both within Venezuelan and abroad, never happened, stating,“There was no attack, the government invented it as a smoke screen.”

President Nicolas Maduro has expressed hopes that all necessary extradition agreements will be honoured.

Borges is a founding member of the hard-right First Justice party, currently serving as national coordinator. He has previously been implicated in the 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chavez, and was a pre-candidate for the 2006 presidential elections. This is his third term as a National Assembly deputy.

In February this year, Maduro denounced that Borges had abandoned his public duties as deputy, stating,“I have been formally informed that Mr Julio Borges has left the country.”

Following a recent international tour by Borges to rally support for unilateral sanctions against Venezuela, which included visits to Washington, Madrid, and other conservative Western capitals, Maduro accused him of treason, warning him that he may be arrested should he return to Venezuela.

Speaking to the nation this week, Maduro claimed that Borges “lives in a mansion in Bogota under the protection of the Colombia government,” which, alongside the “Colombian oligarchy,” he has accused of being behind the August 4 attack.

Outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos claims denied his involvement, reporting that he was attending his granddaughter's baptism that day.

Borges was one of numerous right-wing Venezuelan politicians who attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new Colombian president, Ivan Duque, Tuesday.

He was accompanied by the current president of the AN, Omar Barboza, Popular Will politicians David Smolansky, Ana Karina Garcia, Lester Toledo, and Carlos Vecchio, as well as fugitive ex-Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.

It is reported that they held meetings with Duque’s new cabinet, the US United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and US Subsecretary of State for Security and Narcotics Kirsten Madison.

Maduro presents evidence of the attack

Following authorisation from the Attorney General’s office, President Nicolas Maduro made public a series of videos and a telephone recording Tuesday, in which the captured drone operators and purported organisers shed light on the organisation of ‘Operation Felix’.

According to the police investigation, nineteen citizens were involved in the attack, which, authorities claim, was linked to networks in Colombia and the US. Alleged personal testimony implicates both Borges and Requesens, as well as a series of other citizens allegedly involved.

The initial plan was reportedly to assassinate Maduro on the July 5 independence celebrations. However, due to logistical difficulties, they were forced to postpone to August 4. The arrested citizens also mention a military drone training base in western Colombia where they were allegedly taught to handle the equipment.

The recent revelations come as the ex-police chief of San Diego municipality in central Venezuela, Salvatore Lucchese, confessed to having been involved in the terrorist attack.

Speaking to Reuters from Colombia, Lucchese confirmed that he was not a “leader” of the organisation but a “soldier of the resistance” and that the objective was President Maduro. He said that while the operation had been foiled, “The armed struggle will continue.”

Likewise, high level meetings took place Wednesday between the Venezuelan Foreign Office and the US representative in Caracas to discuss the affair. Venezuelan police have named Florida-based Venezuelan national Osman Delgado Tabosky as being one of the “financiers” of the terrorist cell.

According to Arreaza US authorities expressed their willingness to “cooperate” at the meeting, whilst a US State Department spokesperson has stated that they are prepared to open an investigation into “illegal activities within their borders should credible evidence be provided.”

The Washington-backed Organisation of American States (OAS) has also made similar moves, with Secretary General Luis Almagro calling for the creation of a commission of international experts to investigate the deeds of August 4. A long-time foe of the Maduro administration, Almagro has also claimed that the attack was staged, though has yet to present evidence to support his claim.

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