President Maduro calls Juan Guaido, Queen of the South, saying the photos of the self-declared leader with the Los Rastrojos represents his “criminal alliance with the paramilitary drug gang."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called the images of self-declared interim president Juan Guaido next to members of the Colombian paramilitary group, Los Rastrojos, a "tremendous scandal."
During a Friday address to the nation, President Maduro said the photos represent Guaido’s “criminal alliance with the paramilitary drug gang, Los Rastrojos." The photos were revealed Thursday over Twitter by human rights defender Wilifredo Canizares of the Fundación Progresar based in Cucuta, Colombia.
"The Rastrojos entered Venezuelan territory to get its member, Juan Guaido, and took him (to Colombia)," said Maduro, in order for Guaido to take part in Venezuela Aid Live concert put on by multi-billionaire, Richard Branson, last February in the Colombian border city of Cucuta.
“This is the mother of all scandals," Maduro insisted. He denounced the relationship between the opposition legislator Guaido and Los Rastrojos, an organization well-documented as drug traffickers with a track record of violent crimes that operates in Colombia, near the border with Venezuela.
"Colombia knows that Los Rastrojos kill people every day and he (Guaido) is photographed with four of their most dangerous criminals, murderers, drug traffickers in Cucuta," said the president from Caracas.
The president asserted it was Colombian ex-president, Alvaro Uribe who gave the order for the paramilitary group to protect Guaido across the Venezuelan border to Cucuta to attend the concert and attempt to usher in trucks filled with supposed “humanitarian aid” supplies from USAID and other governments and international organizations.
Maduro called Guaido a "tremendous bandit, tremendous criminal, who has sided with the United States government to be the opposition leader." Guaido claims he had taken pictures with “hundreds” of people the day he entered Colombia, trying to distance himself from any alliance with the narco group.
Maduro said that Los Rastrojos protected “Queen Guaido, drug trafficking queen, the Queen of the South," to get through the border, comparing the U.S.-aligned Guaido with the fictional woman drug-smuggler in the Queen of the South television series. By February, the Venezuelan government already had an arrest warrant out for Guaido who was prohibited from leaving the country after his January failed coup attempt.
Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab announced on Friday he has ordered a new, now the fourth, investigation against Guaido.
"Did the government of Ivan Duque know that these drug-trafficking paramilitaries, Los Rastrojos, were going to be the honor guards of Guaido to enter Colombia illegally? We think we can assume that they did," Saab told the press.
Colombian President Ivan Duque told the press Friday: "We facilitated (Guadio's) entry into Colombian territory ... he was welcome in Colombian territory and protected in Colombian territory." Duque called the fugitive a "hero."
One of the men in the photograph with Guaido is Jhon Jairo Duran, aka "Minor", arrested on June 18 in Colombia after fleeing a shooting where at least 12 people were killed.