A Couple of Drones

There are still more questions than answers about what happened on Saturday at Bolívar Av. Here’s what we do know.

Photo: EFE retrieved

Several journalists spent this Sunday touring the areas near yesterday’s incident at Bolívar Av. to try and verify official versions. The fire was reported yesterday afternoon at Building Don Eduardo, located at the Este 12 Av. (Santa Rosalía sector). There, news agency Associated Press collected the anonymous testimonies of firefighters who said that a gas cylinder had exploded. Throughout Sunday, social networks were flooded with interviews with the neighbors of the Don Eduardo building and dismissed the gas cylinder version, describing the drone, which some saw flying while others saw or heard explode on the roof of the first floor, some sort of terrace that’s inaccessible from apartment 22, which was the most affected in the building.

Social networks were flooded with interviews with the neighbors of the Don Eduardo building and dismissed the gas cylinder version.

Later, journalist Adriana Núñez Rabascall shared a part of a video that shows the drone flying and falling on the Don Eduardo building. Telemundo has the full version and we’re waiting for them to release it. Shortly afterwards, another video was published in which Nicolás’s speech was clearly heard and, after the camera focuses on a flying drone (the first one) the device blows up and a young male voice says: “We got sabotaged, did you see it?”. About that drone, the one that exploded near the presidential stage, journalist Javier Ignacio Mayorca posted a series of videos on his Instagram account: @crimensincastigo. The people of Runrun.es synchronized three videos to clarify the moments each of them covered.

Armored hurricane

While CEOFANB celebrated on Twitter that they qualified for the semifinal of the Army Games 2018, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said yesterday’s incident was terrible, poor and cowardly, claiming that it “touches a very serious and dangerous extreme,” while asserting that all security bodies are working and ratifying the accusation against “the Venezuelan and Colombian ultra-rights.” He added that “no government that seeks to take power through a non-democratic method will have the Armed Forces’ support.”

Shortly after that, Interior Minister Néstor Reverol said that two drones model M600 were used yesterday and that each one contained one kilogram of C4 explosives, capable of affecting a 50-meter radius. In his view, the drones can carry a huge load and weight and what contained the drain that hovered near the presidential stage was the “installation of signal-jamming equipment.” Without offering names, he announced that six people had been arrested (one of them already wanted for the assault against Paramacay Fort in 2017 and another who participated in protests in 2014 and was released from prison with precautionary measures); that they’ve collected video evidence and in less than 24 hours, they managed to identify the masterminds and perpetrators within the country and abroad, but they don’t rule out further arrests.

The issue with the versions

Later, Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez said that a group of insurgents planned yesterday’s incident for six months and thanks to the “quick reaction” of Nicolás’s security ring, they could capture several material authors that “are revealing all the details of this operation.” He also said that most of the masterminds are arrested and confessing, but they also seized the electronic equipment they had.

Jorge Rodríguez also said that most of the masterminds are arrested and confessing.

The detail? In his version, there weren’t two but three drones: one in front of the presidential stage, another to the right of the stage (the Curamiche corner) and the third exploded near the Don Eduardo building, three squares south of the stage. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza met with part of the diplomatic corps accredited in Venezuela to prevent them from being “victims of misleading information.” In his version, there were only two drones. He thanked the support they’ve received, claimed that the incident clears any doubt about the existence of a plan to oust Nicolás and restated that the attempt was planned in Colombia and the United States.

Support and condemnation

Condemnation for this Saturday’s incident started with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who said it was “a crime against humanity.” Next came Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the Turkish Foreign Minister (who referred to the incident as “abominable”) while Russia said the use of terrorist methods as instruments of political fight is “categorically unacceptable.” The Syrian government also condemned the attack and took the chance to suggest that the international community avoid meddling in Venezuelan affairs, while Spain’s socialist faction demanded “a peaceful, democratic, negotiated solution” to our crisis. Colombia rejected Nicolás’s accusation because “it’s unfounded,” while Donald Trump’s National Security adviser John Bolton said that the United States was not involved in the event, but that if the Venezuelan government has solid information they want to share with them, they’ll process it; meanwhile, Bolton said, “what we really should focus on is the corruption and the oppression of the Maduro regime in Venezuela,” adding that Nicolás’s accusations are things he’s said before “and we should take them for what they are worth.”

Other attempts

  • Against press freedom: the National Union of Press Workers denounced that 11 journalists and media employees were arbitrarily arrested, beaten or robbed. They demand that the culprits be punished.
  • Against survival: Asdrúbal Oliveros reported in a forum that the inflation rate for July was 145% and the yearly rate between July 2017 and July 2018 was 124,000%.
  • Against the right to information: German channel Deutsche Welle (DW) was pulled from cable TV providers by order of Conatel, for broadcasting the documentary “Venezuela – Escape from a Failed State.” Once the program’s 42 minutes had elapsed, the channel was back on the grid. Conatel denied the incident.
  • Against free transit: airport authorities retained Carabobo University rector Jessy Divo in Valencia on Friday. An order was issued barring her from leaving the country.
  • Against respect: Francisco Arias Cárdenas admitted that the chip to regulate fuel traffic didn’t work due to “the internal corruption of those who handled and installed it.” And he said it only to support the relevance of the transport census as the method that will solve everything.

So there were two drones. Experts say that the damage caused by both triggered objects doesn’t match a payload of one kilogram of C4 explosive. There’s a level of vulnerability shown in the stampede of the brave, that can’t be solved by arresting material authors or masterminds, nor grandiose adjectives or vows of loyalty. By the way, all the testimonies collected today by State media come from bureaucratic structures. The Frente Amplio cautioned that the government could use this confusing incident as a diversion from the crisis and to criminalize dissidents, intensifying repression. We’re all alert, starting with Nicolás.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.