The Stampede of the Brave

Naky weighs in on the facts as the smoke clears after an incident during the 81st anniversary of the National Guard, which the government is treating like an assassination attempt against Nicolás Maduro.

At 5:41 p.m. during the ceremony for the 81st anniversary of the National Guard, some explosions were heard and Nicolás interrupted his speech. Right after seeing how the military ranks scattered in a stampede and hearing a male voice say: “Let’s go to the right,” the mandatory broadcast on radio and TV was abruptly cut.

During the ceremony for the 81st anniversary of the National Guard, some explosions were heard and Nicolás interrupted his speech.

Two hours later, Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez reported that “investigations clearly establish that they were caused by two drone type flying devices that contained explosive charges that exploded near the presidential stage and in some areas of the parade,” claiming that it was “an attempt on the constitutional president’s life (…) who was unharmed.”

According to Rodríguez, seven military officers whom he didn’t identify were wounded, but were already being taken care of. In his view, the incident evidences the desperation of “some ultra-right spokespeople (…) who after being defeated in the political field, in the field of the economic war and (…) in all fields established by the Constitution, they keep resorting to criminal practices.” By the way, Jorge Rodríguez claimed that the military formation never broke.

Nicolás’ version

Despite being unharmed, the rictus that accompanied the first part of his speech didn’t show solvency but anger. He spent 10 minutes in useless details before saying that yesterday’s events were evidence of the complaints they’ve raised about “the golpista plan the ultra-right has been advancing,” accusing both the local and Bogota right-wings equally, but linking up the recent statements of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos about the “short time” Nicolás’s got left in power with this incidence, accusing him along with Miami financiers, of being responsible for what he called an attempt on his life: “They tried to murder me today,” he said.

“My first reaction was observation, serenity,” Nicolás said and improvised -it was obvious- that he even believed there had been a mistake with a firework, but that soldiers were firm, except that when they felt the second explosive wave, they ran for cover.

It was original for him to have asked Donald Trump for help to fight against terrorists in the region.

He had the gall of comparing himself with Simón Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre and claiming that this is the first assassination attempt against a president since the one suffered by Rómulo Betancourt in 1960, denying the attempts against Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992 and minimizing the 63 complaints of assassination attempts made by Hugo Chávez. It was original for him to have asked Donald Trump for help to fight against terrorists in the region, promising the culprits three things: justice, the highest punishment and no mercy.

CSI + marketing

“Communication was cut and investigations started immediately (…) we’ve captured and prosecuted some of the material authors of the attempt and recovered part of the evidence,” he claimed without revealing any names, the place where they were captured, the evidence recovered or the methods to support a faster investigation than any CSI episode.

He used the event to justify the collapse of the electric system; denying our serious crime rate, he blamed Colombia for all forms of violence and said that he’s “the guarantee of peace to live in this country,” threatening a civil war if something were to happen to him. In his view, what ultra-right groups are desperate about (enough as to plan to kill him) is that “for the first time in five years, we have a well-thought economic plan,” zero shame. But to “turn the economic situation around,” it’s imperative to carry out a transport census, and he talked about that for some time, restated other announced measures and justifying their pertinence solely on the fact that he’s alive.

The epic conclusion was the worst of the message, a lesson in self-help that included: a shield of love, the right side of history, Jesus Christ’s special protection and his willingness to keep on with the “revolution”.

AP’s version

The news agency Associated Press said that several firefighters in the scene contradicted the government’s story.

Far from the version of snipers that brought down drones loaded with explosives while they hovered over the parade, the news agency Associated Press said that several firefighters in the scene contradicted the government’s story. According to AP, three agents anonymously said that it was actually the explosion of a gas cylinder in a nearby apartment. Spain’s El País added the statement of someone who was in the event, close to Nicolás, and anonymously said he was sceptic about the official version, that he saw no drone and that he heard no gunshots “so the version that security forces fired against a drone isn’t believable,” he said, adding that what he heard was an explosion “like a mortar.”

Other contributions

Diosdado Cabello didn’t wait for the progress of the swift investigation and said on Twitter that “the right-wing insists on violence to take over the spaces they can’t win through votes,” while the account of the Movimiento Nacional Soldados de Franela claimed responsibility for the attack: “the operation was to take two drones loaded with C4, the target was the presidential stage, honor guard snipers took down the drones before they could reach the target. We showed that they’re vulnerable, we failed today, but it’s a matter of time,” says the Tweet.

Additionally, a “statement” was issued calling the assault “Operación Fénix,” a document urging everyone to take to the streets with no return, supporting our constitutional soldiers and civilian political leaders to take and consolidate power, towards the conformation of a Transition Government Junta.

The compulsion for lying

There are no pictures of the drones or the snipers.

NGO Espacio Público and the National Union of Press Workers denounced that after the events, the whereabouts of journalists and workers Neidy Freytes, César Díaz and Alfredo Valera were unknown “after the GNB approached them in the Bolívar avenue and cut their broadcast.” In an interview with CNN, imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab said that he knew nothing about the missing journalists, after three hours of their disappearance. They were released almost immediately.

And mind you, CNN is censored in every cable TV operator in Venezuela. If in the first official version about the incident, Jorge Rodríguez denied what we saw, he opened the path for questioning any other information provided by the Executive.

There are no pictures of the drones or the snipers, but we could see the burned apartment where the gas cylinder allegedly exploded. Nicolás used the incident to reinforce the idea of violence as the only route to oust him and yet, doing that would only bring us a civil war. The mistake, the insurmountable mistake, was the stampede, which shows just how well our loyal and courageous troops will stand against the enemy.

“Dignity is what separates a retreat from a stampede.”
José Urriola

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.