CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s socialist president Nicolas Maduro accused the right-wing governments of Chile, Colombia and Mexico on Monday of helping “terrorists” who tried to kill him during a drone attack in early August.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with ministers at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela September 24, 2018. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
The three countries refuted Venezuela’s accusations that they were linked to the attack, which used drones carrying explosives during a military parade, in the latest spat between diplomatically isolated Caracas and Latin America.
Maduro showed a video of a young Venezuelan man, identified as Henryberth Rivas, who said in a televised broadcast on Monday night he participated in the drone attack against the president.
Rivas said in the video he was instructed by a fellow plotter after the attack to seek refuge at the Chilean embassy in Caracas, from where he was told he would be smuggled to the Mexican embassy, then to the Colombian embassy, and finally over the border to Colombia.
However, the Chilean embassy was closed and the plan fell through, Rivas said.
Maduro said: “Today I can say we have convincing elements of the participation of Chilean, Colombian and Mexican diplomats in the protection of these people who undertook a terrorist act,” said Maduro, who also showed a video of Rivas allegedly being arrested.
Reuters was not able to corroborate the events described in the video.
Maduro did not provide evidence of the embassies’ alleged role. The Information Ministry did not respond immediately to a request for further information.
Government critics say Maduro frequently makes baseless accusations against ideologically opposed foreign nations in a bid to shift blame over Venezuela’s salary-destroying hyperinflation, major food shortages, and rampant crime.
Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said at the weekend Caracas had concluded that Chile, Colombia, and Mexico were involved in the attack.
All three countries refuted the accusations.
“Chile rejects the Venezuelan government’s slanderous accusations that have no credibility to successfully distract from the very serious humanitarian situation in the country,” Chile’s Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero told reporters on Monday.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said it requested the presence of Venezuela’s ambassador to Mexico, Maria Lourdes Urbaneja, to hand her a letter rejecting what it called the “unfounded accusations.”
“Mexico’s diplomats have at all times acted in accordance with international law and the Vienna Convention,” the ministry said.
Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in CARACAS; Additional reporting by Antonio de la Jara in SANTIAGO and Anthony Esposito in MEXICO CITY; Editing by Paul Tait