Published on 16 October 2014 by Venezuela Analysis
All eight men who participated in the murder of pro-government lawmaker Robert Serra have been identified, said Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro in a press conference.
“This assassination was being prepared for over three months. It was directed by a Colombian whose legal identity we have not yet revealed. A Colombian paramilitary meticulously directed the whole preparation process of the crime. He used a gang directed by another thuggish murderer, Padilla Leyva, alias “Colombia,” Maduro told local and international media.
The Venezuelan president showed cctv footage of how six men entered Robert Serra’s house on Wednesday 1 October, saying that in five to six minutes both Serra and his assistant Maria Herrera were stabbed to death. Two other men waited outside with getaway vehicles.
According to Venezuelan authorities the “weak point” in Serra’s protection was his bodyguard Eduwin Camacho Torres, who had allegedly turned against Serra and was the person who let the other members of the gang into the young lawmaker’s Caracas home.
Two members of the group, including Torres, have been arrested and have confessed their role in the assassination, according to authorities. The names of the other alleged members of the gang were released last night, and officials pledge to find and arrest them.
The government will also request the assistance of Interpol in tracking down the suspects under the possibility that some may have fled the country.
“We request them; we’re going to look everywhere. We are also going to capture those who are intellectually responsible, whatever surname they have,” announced Maduro.
President Maduro tied Serra’s assassination to what he said was a planned destabilisation strategy against the Venezuelan state directed by far-right opposition figures in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States.
Maduro argued that a strategy of political terrorism began this year with a “violent onslaught” in February to May, when militant opposition street barricades shut down the normal functioning of several cities.
He also recalled the assassination of the pro-government head of a Caracas municipal council, Eliezer Otaiza, on 28 April, and the interception of paramilitaries from Colombia that same month that were allegedly travelling to the capital to assassinate top government politicians.
The arrest last month of two Venezuelan opposition activists, Lorent Gomez Saleh and Gabriel Valles, was also placed within this context. Videos were shown on Venezuelan state TV of the two discussing plans to attack the bridge linking Colombia and the Venezuelan state of Tachira. The two activists were expelled from Colombia for “national security reasons”.
There exist accusations that Saleh and Valles have connections to former right-wing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe.
Nicolas Maduro also claimed there’s evidence that assassination plans against education minister Hector Rodriguez and National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello had been foiled earlier this month, shortly after Serra’s assassination.
The Venezuelan president argued that “some media and imperial elites” did not understand that the destabilisation of Venezuela would unsettle the wider region.
“Only a stable, prosperous and working Venezuela, solving its problems in peace and democracy is the guarantee of a peaceful continent,” he said.