Maduro Calls to Investigate Opposition’s False Chemical Weapons Claims
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro condemned opposition politician David Smolansky’s accusations on social media last weekend, alleging that the Bolivarian government had used chemical weapons against its people in recent stand-offs with opposition protestors. Maduro has requested a national investigation into these claims which he suggests seek to legitimate US intervention into the South American nation.
Smolansky, mayor of the elite Caracas municipality of El Hatillo and national coordinator for the hard-right Popular Will Party (VP), published a tweet Saturday suggesting that, “the National Bolivarian Guard has a chemical that they are using so that people lose their balance, vomit and even lose their eyesight.”
4:08 PM El “Gas Rojo” que utilizó la GN tiene un químico para que las personas se descompensen, vomiten y hasta puedan perder la vista pic.twitter.com/htpD4XIknO
— David Smolansky (@dsmolansky) April 8, 2017
The mayor also published a tweet calling on the international community to “watch out,” and stated that “Maduro is starting to use chemical weapons as is happening in Syria”.
Maduro responded to the accusations Sunday, stating that Smolansky was attempting to encourage international intervention in Venezuela.
“Yesterday, a mayor of a municipality in eastern Caracas, was trying to accuse me and the government of using chemical weapons against the population. This is serious, especially after what we know imperialism has done, building a false positive case to launch missiles against the people of Syria,” Maduro stated, referring to US President Trump’s tomahawk strike against Syria last week.
Moreover, the Venezuelan head of state confirmed that the government has never had in its possession chemical or nuclear weapons.
“I ask the authorities to investigate with an iron first this mayor’s criminal and outlandish messages attempting [to provoke] military intervention…Venezuela has never had biological, chemical or nuclear weapons,” he stated.
“Is this the path you want?” continued the president, directly addressing the opposition leadership.
During Monday’s opposition protests, Smolansky repeated his claims and added other alleged symptoms of the chemicals such as “skin irritation” and “breathing problems.”
The mayor’s accusations have been widely exposed as false by international and national media. In a tweet published on social media Saturday, teleSUR Caracas correspondent Madelein Garcia explained that “Smolansky’s red smoke is not a chemical bomb, it’s a smokescreen used to camouflage law enforcement officials’ movements.”
El humo rojo de Smolansky no es una bomba química es una cortina de humo se usa para camuflar movimientos de las fuerzas del orden público pic.twitter.com/hc1ZGY0QGj
— Madelein Garcia (@madeleintlSUR) April 9, 2017
The Bolivarian government and social movements have consistently denounced attempts to intervene in the South American nation, particularly as the Organization of American States (OAS) and other international bodies have attempted to delegitimate the Maduro administration on the basis of alleged human rights violations, food and medical shortages, and the stalled dialogue with the opposition in recent months.
Smolansky made the comments as opposition protests calling for early presidential elections turned violent last week. The unrest has seen opposition demonstrators destroy public property, attack security officials, and set up barricades on the streets.