Saturday, June 15, 2013

More on the 18 war planes and the paramilitaries

The blog Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights has an excellent Q&A overview by David Smilde on the Venezuela Colombia relations, and some answers to recent conspiracy claims made in Venezuela. 

Here is part of the article:

Is there any truth to Venezuela’s recent claims that theVenezuelan opposition has purchased 18 war planes to be located in Colombia and that they captured nine Colombian paramilitaries conspiring to kill President Maduro?

Of course stranger things have happened and from the outside it is impossible to know without actually seeing the evidence. But neither claim seems likely. Eighteen warplanes, depending on the model and whether they were used or new would cost somewhere between $250 million and $1 billion and it is hard to imagine who in the Venezuelan opposition would be willing to put forward that much money for such a venture. Any actual belligerent action would require extensive ground support, ammunition and ground troops. This does not seem plausible even if it were free.

Paramilitary conspiracies against the Venezuelan government are, of course, a possibility. But the timing seems unlikely. Assassination attempts usually come from groups who feel threatened by strong leaders that oppose their interests. But Maduro has struggled in his first two months and many people in the opposition and in Chavismo doubt he will finish his term. It’s not clear why right wing opponents of the Venezuelan government would want to take him out violently.

Venezuela has a long and porous border with Colombia which means in states close to that border there is extensive presence of guerrilla, paramilitaries and all sorts of irregular groups involved in contraband, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. Any given day of the week the Venezuelan armed forces could round up some paramilitaries or other irregulars and accuse them of whatever they want. So it would require some real concrete evidence beyond mug shots to make this story plausible.

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