By: Analia Sordi & Matt Hodder
A stolen police helicopter attacked the Venezuelan Supreme Court Tuesday, firing guns and throwing grenades.
15 shots were fired and four grenades were dropped, one of which did not detonate. No one was injured.
In video messages, Oscar Perez, a member of the country’s investigative police force, claimed responsibility for the assault. In one of the five video clips uploaded in Spanish to the Instagram account @VenezuelaLucha he said, “we are a coalition of military, police and civilian personnel working against this criminal government.”
“We are nationalists, patriots and institutionalists. This fight is not against state security forces, but against the violation of human rights. This is not vengeance but a fight for justice,” said Perez.
The attack follows months of civil unrest, as the country’s people protest a shortage of food and medicine.
74 people have been killed, and more than 1400 have been injured in the protests.
President Nicolas Maduro has been under pressure to step down or hold a democratic election, and Perez echoed this sentiment in the video.
Antulio Rosales, Professor at Wilfrid Laurier describes the environment in Venezuela as hostile.
“In the past 80 days there has been daily protests,” he said. “Many of which have been peaceful and civil carried out by the main opposition parties but there has also been violent and aggressive protest towards property and military installations. There has also been crude repression coming from the side of the government forces.”
There are conflicting views on the motivation for the attack.
Alessandra Polga, director at the Canadian Venezuelan Engagement Foundation said, “some people believe it was a fake coupe.” She explained it could have been a method to expose military and other police forces that do not support the government. However, if this was the plan it backfired, as nobody from the government sided with Perez.
“There is no evidence any political opposition parties were involved,” Rosales said.
Polga said there are some Venezuelans who believe it was a distraction from the supreme court ruling that happened yesterday.
National authority, Luisa Ortega who has been speaking out about the Maduro government violating the constitution was removed from her position and a “loyal” member was selected.
The protests have escalated since Maduro’s took power of all levels of government.
According to Polga, Venezuela has no separation of government, unlike in Canada where the Prime Minister has to consult with senate and parliament.
“The only thing that they don’t control is the national assembly because so many people went to vote that they couldn’t change the result,” said Polga.