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Maduro Tracking Down Venezuelan Opposition in Colombia


Nicolas Maduro is tracking down Venezuela opposition abroad
Nicolas Maduro has tasked the Venezuelan Intelligence Services with tracking down Venezuelan opposition members in Colombia and Chile. Credit: Nicolas Maduro / X

Nicolas Maduro is going after members of the Venezuelan opposition and his political enemies living across Latin America, says Ivan Simonovis, a former security chief in Caracas and a critic of Venezuela’s socialist government. In a new interview, Simonovis, who now works as a security advisor, claimed that Maduro’s intelligence agents are working in nations such as Colombia. Their goal is to keep an eye on political foes and possibly to eliminate them.

The hunt for the Venezuelan opposition

In recent months, the Venezuelan intelligence services have multiplied undercover operations against Venezuelan opposition figures. On February 21, 2024, in Chile, Ronald Ojeda Moreno, a former member of the Venezuelan military and a public critic of President Nicolas Maduro, was kidnapped and eventually killed by a group posing as the Chilean Investigations Police.

The murder of the 31-year-old, who had been arrested in April 2017 on charges of conspiracy and terrorism, directly implicates the Venezuelan government. Earlier, in December 2023, Angelo Heredia, another Venezuelan military dissident residing in Colombia, was kidnapped in Cucuta and forcibly returned to Venezuela, where he is currently under investigation for treason.

Venezuela’s alliance with criminal groups

In his analysis, Ivan Simonovis highlighted the ambiguous connections between Venezuelan security services and criminal organizations such as the Colombian guerrilla group ELN and the Venezuelan gang Tren de Aragua. The latter has recently established a presence in Bogota, Colombia, leading to a spike in crime through assassinations and extortions.

The Maduro regime has long been scrutinized for its covert relationship with Tren de Aragua. A key accusation is that Nicolas Maduro sought support from this criminal group amid the country’s political turmoil, relying on gang members to suppress opposition. Venezuelan security services are alleged to have facilitated the gang’s ascendancy. InSight Crime, a media outlet specializing in organized crime, even suggests that Venezuelan authorities staged a raid on the Tocoron prison, previously Tren de Aragua’s headquarters, and that the organization’s leader still resides in Venezuela.

Accordingly, the assassination of Ronald Ojeda Moreno is believed to have been executed by Tren de Aragua members hired by the Venezuelan intelligence service. Similarly, it is claimed that the ELN was approached to abduct Angelo Heredia.

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