President Maduro has said that after “two days of combat” the police killed two criminal gang leaders known as “El Picure” and “El Topo.” He also said that opposition leaders have links to the criminal gangs that operate in the south of the country.
El Topo was the main suspect behind the Tumeremo massacre in early March. Maduro said that the opposition deputy Américo De Grazia should be investigated because of the timing in which he denounced the massacre. “The people arrested are talking, and there are more than one right-wing deputies [involved.] There was one deputy writing on twitter on real time at the same time the massacre was happening,” said Maduro referring to De Grazia.
Before Maduro, Interior Minister Gustavo González López had already declared that the opposition had links with El Topo and his criminal gang. “We discovered that there are links with political groups of the right in Bolivar state.” According to González López El Topo’s gang was part of an opposition plot to affect the “Mining Arch,” the government’s latest mining project, and to “link the Venezuelan state to situations of violence.”
Deputy Américo De Grazia was the first to report that a massacre had occurred near the mining town of Tumeremo. He answered the recent government accusations by claiming that the Interior Minister is trying to justify the Mining Arch and its negative effects on the environment and the people of the region.
Since the first reports came out about the Tumeremo massacre, the government has made similar accusations against De Grazia and other opposition leaders. Ruling party’s governor of Bolivar, Francisco Rangel Gómez, first denied that the massacre had ever occurred, but then said that it was “all part of a political game-play by the right that is receiving funds from illegal mining in the area.”