Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said that authorities captured a US spy targeting a pair of refineries on the north Caribbean coast as the nation once wealthy from oil is gripped by a deep gasoline shortage.
The spy was a US Marine who had served as a CIA operative in Iraq, Maduro said.
He gave no identity or other immediate proof to support the claim, saying that more details would follow, such as photographs and video.
The suspect was captured on Thursday while possessing specialized weapons and a large sum of US dollars, Maduro said, adding that the man was being interrogated about his activities around the Amuay and Cardon refineries in Falcon State.
Maduro, an adversary of the US, also said that Venezuelan authorities had dismantled a plot on Wednesday that was aimed at blowing up a third refinery, El Palito, in Carabobo State.
He urged the nation’s oil workers to be on alert for more attacks.
“The gringo empire wants revenge against Venezuela,” he said. “It wants to prevent Venezuela from producing all petroleum products, gasoline.”
Oil once made Venezuela a wealthy nation, but critics of Maduro say two decades of socialist rule have left it near ruin.
Its dilapidated oil fields and refineries barely produce, and the nation today relies on imports from Iran, another US foe.
A second, deep scarcity of gasoline struck in the past few days, frustrating drivers stuck in lines for hours and days to fuel up, even in the capital, Caracas.
Analysts have said the next three Iranian ships hauling fuel would not arrive for weeks.
While Venezuela’s broken oil industry leaves drivers stranded, stiff US sanctions have also blocked Maduro from importing gasoline.
If Maduro’s claim of netting a US citizen prove correct, the suspect would join two ex-Green Beret soldiers jailed in Venezuela for allegedly participating in a failed attempt to overthrow the socialist leader.
The two former US special forces soldiers were arrested in early May among more than 80 rebel Venezuelan fighters who staged a failed beach attack called Operation Gideon aimed at arresting Maduro.
The ex-Green Berets — Luke Denman and Airan Berry — have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Authorities have said that the two men confessed to being part of the plot.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference