Venezuelan Authorities Warn Against Far-Right Violence Before Elections

(MENAFN- Caribbean News Global) By José Luis Granados Ceja

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (venezuelanalysis ) – Venezuelan Political figures have sounded alarm over threats of political violence ahead of the presidential election after a Colombian paramilitary group claimed it was contacted by Venezuelan far-right figures seeking to engage in sabotage and political assassinations.

In a video recorded [last] Thursday, a group of masked individuals identifying themselves as the“Autodefensas Conquistadoras de la Sierra Nevada” said that members of their group in the Colombian department of La Guajira, bordering Venezuela, had been approached by“Venezuelan far-right groups” to engage in“destabilizing acts” in Venezuelan territory.

The unidentified spokesperson, purporting to speak on behalf of the group's high command, said they had been asked to sabotage the electric grid, attack president Nicolás Maduro, and sow“chaos” in the streets should he be re-elected on July 28. The spokesperson went on to say that the group denied the requests because it abstains from interfering in other country's affairs. It also pledged to contact Venezuelan authorities.

The news of the alleged plot was condemned by Venezuelan government officials, including Venezuelan defense minister Vladimir Padrino.

“It is not at all surprising that this radical opposition sector resorts again to violence; it is enough to remember extremist events of recent years in which their participation was reliably demonstrated,” said Padrino in a statement .

Padrino additionally warned that the Venezuelan Armed Forces, which are responsible for ensuring the security of elections, would act decisively.

“​​We will not tolerate acts of any nature that attack the normal development of this process, and we will act forcefully within the framework of the Constitution and the law, as well as the humanist character that characterizes us, in order to guarantee the Venezuelan people their peace and democracy,” he said.

Venezuelan attorney-general Tarek William Saab said his office had opened a formal investigation into the allegations and that he had extended an invitation to Colombian counterparts to assist in the probe.

“It is a neo-Nazi policy to destabilize the country. [Far-right figures] have asked that they act in Venezuelan territory ahead of the electoral process,” said Saab.

Maduro and seven other presidential candidates signed a pledge to respect the election result and vowed to guarantee a peaceful democratic process, explicitly rejecting violence or destabilization efforts. The president's main opposition rival, Edmundo González – widely understood to be a stand-in candidate for far-right opposition leader María Corina Machado and one other presidential candidate refused to sign the pledge.

Venezuelan electoral processes have been previously marred by post-election violence. In the 2013 presidential vote, where Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles, the US-backed hardline opposition refused to recognize the results and unleashed violent street protests in an effort to overturn the outcome.

Ranking Chavista Diosdado Cabello recently warned that US-backed opposition factions were again planning on rejecting the outcome of this election if the result is not in their favor.

The credibility of the allegations leveled by the“Autodefensas Conquistadoras de la Sierra Nevada” has been bolstered by the fact that this is not the first instance of Colombian paramilitary groups being asked to violently interfere in Venezuelan politics.

During his testimony to Colombia's Special Jurisdiction for Peace last year, former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso alleged that Venezuelan opposition figures conspired with Colombian paramilitaries to stage a coup d'etat and assassinate President Hugo Chávez.

Mancuso recently sat down for an interview with Venezuela News, where he repeated his claims.

“There was great interest from politicians and businessmen from Venezuela who came to Colombia to seek support from self-defense [paramilitary groups] to overthrow president Hugo Chávez and even with the support of some Venezuelan military personnel,” said Mancuso.

In related news, Venezuelan lawmaker and head of Maduro's campaign Jorge Rodríguez called for the National Assembly to open an investigation into alleged threats against opposition politicians who are not aligned with the US-backed opposition led by Machado.

Rodríguez shared images of hateful language directed at two local opposition politicians who do not support the hardline opposition. He further called on international election observation teams to denounce the threats, including the US-based Carter Center, which accepted an invitation by the country's electoral authority to monitor the vote.

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