MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he believes former Colombian President Alvo Uribe may have been involved in the plot to kill Socialist Congressman Robert Serra, who was stabbed to death along with his partner; Serra was laid to rest on Friday, the BBC reported.
Speaking at Serra’s funeral on Friday, Maduro said that the plot was masterminded “abroad, in Colombia and in Miami” by “the band of criminals that ex-President Alvaro Uribe has directed all of his life.”
Another Socialist Venezuelan Congressman, Freddy Bernal, further ratcheted up the rhetoric, stating that “Uribe will be tried for crimes against humanity ... and terrorism not only against Venezuela but...throughout Latin America,” Telesur reported.
Apart from the rhetoric, Maduro has not presented any information linking Uribe to the crime.
The President of the country’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, said that he had no doubts that “this is a political murder, committed to intimidate other young people and try to keep them away from politics," according to Telesur.
During the preliminary investigation following Serra’s killing, the head of the country’s Interior Ministry Miguel Rodriguez Torres had said that “we are looking at an intentional homicide that was planned and carried out with great precision,” but urged government supporters to “remain calm” and to refrain from turning the murder into a “media show,” the Washington Post stated.
Serra, a 27-year-old congressman from the country’s ruling United Socialist Party, was found stabbed to death together with his partner, Maria Herrera in their apartment on Wednesday. The preliminary investigation suggested a premeditated murder, and Serra’s body had apparently showed signs of torture prior to his death.
Serra and his partner were given a procession through streets of Venezuela’s capital city of Caracas; afterwards there was a short religious ceremony, followed by a tearful speech from the country’s President. “Rest assured that we will, sooner rather than later, arrest those who committed this crime. They have been identified,” Maduro said, as cited by the BBC.
Official Opposition Rejects Violence, Upset Over Politicization
Former presidential candidate and leader of Venezuela’s Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition Henrique Capriles Radonski paid his respects to Serra via social media, stating that “the death of any Venezuelan deserves our most energetic rejection, a national outcry for the violence to end,” the Washington Post reported.
Democratic Unity Roundtable spokesman Henry Ramos Allup criticized the accusations that the government has levied against the political right. "We deeply regret that the head of state, in such sorrowful circumstances as the violent death of any Venezuelan, does not use the moment to call for harmony, for peace...but instead launches the most serious of accusations," the Spanish news agency EFE reported Allup as saying.
Opponents of Maduro’s USP government have accused him of using the murder and other recent events as a way of inflating threats to justify a crackdown on non-violent, anti-government demonstrations in the country.
The government has been saying since the beginning of this year that right-wing militants, in league with groups in Colombia and the United States, are seeking to overthrow the elected government through violent means, including assassinations and terrorist attacks on the country’s infrastructure.
Venezuelan television had released a video earlier this month showing discussions involving Lorent Saleh, the leader of an extreme right-wing group, plotting to destabilize the government ahead of the municipal elections carried out in May of this year. The video showed Saleh communicating that he had received training assistance from groups inside Colombia, including explosives and weapons training, Telesur reported.
According to Telesur, Colombia turned Saleh over to Venezuela’s intelligence service on September 4; the country considered him a security threat.
Venezuela has also reported the discovery of four separate “terrorist groups” this week, which are alleged to be plotting attacks across the country, Rossiya Segodnya’s Spanish-language service noted on Friday.
Earlier this week Hector Rodriguez, Venezuela’s Deputy Minister of Social Development, was attacked, but escaped unharmed.