Colombian’s ex-president, Alvaro Uribe, stood firm in his denial of having any involvement in the murder of a Venezuelan lawmaker last year, and said false claims against him only motivated him to oppose the “dictatorship” of Nicolas Maduro.
Police found Robert Serra and his partner stabbed to death in his home in October 2014. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro claimed he was convinced that Serra’s murder was politically driven. His suspicion was corroborated by Serra’s bodyguard, who confessed to conspiring with Colombian paramilitary members to arrange his assassination.
Julio Velez, a fugitive former politician from Colombia was captured on Wednesday in Caracas on charges that he masterminded Serra’s murder. Maduro had released a web of accusations following the assassination, one of which was directed at former Colombian president and current senator Alvaro Uribe. Maduro claimed that Velez has secretly been Uribe’s “right-hand man.”
“The mastermind of the murder of the young socialist deputy [Robert Serra] is directly linked to Alvaro Uribe, Colombian ex-president, who openly moves against [Venezuela] and leads destabilizing operations and violence in the country,” Maduro claimed.
In response to Maduro’s claims, Uribe drew attention to the fact that Venezuela’s economy has been struggling for years, claiming Maduro is a dictator who needs to distract the Venezuelan people from his shortcomings as a leader.
“What more could one expect from the Venezuelan dictatorship, one that seized seven million hectares and is unproductive in a country without food; a dictatorship that expropriated 7,000 industries and is producing the least?” said Uribe in a news conference following the allegations.
Robert Serra was one of the youngest members of the ruling United Socialist Party. He was elected deputy in 2010, first taking office at the age of 23, making him the youngest member of the Venezuelan National Assembly. He was murdered at the age of 27.
Maduro alleged that the purpose of Serra’s assassination was to intimidate a younger generation of politicians and youth activists who aligned politically with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s former president, to whom Uribe was notoriously opposed.
In Maduro’s opinion, the assassination of Serra was part of a larger effort by extremist groups to incite violence in Venezuela, an effort he claims is also supported by Uribe, who has been involved in colluding paramilitaries in the past. “All the paths lead us to Uribe. Technical elements, testimonies, proof, and evidence thus far compiled.” explained Maduro.
Uribe’s attorney, Jaime Granados, cautioned the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) to be wary of Maduro’s claims in the midst of such a sensitive political time for his country, furthermore adamantly defending his client.
“[The accusations] are nonsense, a disgrace from a dictator who is obsessed with Alvaro Uribe. Every time Venezuela faces a problem they always turn straight to Uribe,” said Granados according to Colombian newspaper Blu Radio.
Current Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos authorized the extradition of former Colombian paramilitary member Leivar “Cololmbia” Padilla, the suspected mastermind behind Serra’s murder.
Maduro has directed all investigatory bodies and police entities to hand over what evidence they have on Serra’s murder to Colombian authorities so that the neighboring country can assist in effectively prosecuting Velez, a former council member of Cucuta, a city that borders Venezuela. There have been no official charges against Uribe.