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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Unharmed After Alleged Assassination Attempt


Turning now to some breaking international news. Just hours ago, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was giving a live speech on state television when his mic was abruptly cut off. You can then see on the feed what look to be hundreds of soldiers breaking formation and scattering. This is a developing story. We are still learning more. Now we are joined by reporter John Otis, who's been following the events from Bogota, Colombia.

Welcome, John

JOHN OTIS, BYLINE: Thanks very much, Don.

GONYEA: So what more can we see in that video beyond what I just described?

OTIS: Well, Don, it's pretty confusing. It's a very short clip, as you said. Maduro is there on the stage giving a speech next to the first lady, and, suddenly, you can hear an explosion on this video clip. And Maduro looks to the sky, and his wife kind of looks startled and sort of seems to fall over a bit. And the military advisers who are surrounding Maduro look up and look kind of startled. And then the camera quickly cuts away, and you can see military troops, hundreds and hundreds of military troops, standing firmly in line for this military event. And then, suddenly, they just all break and start running for cover.

And, shortly afterwards, Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela's communications minister, did, in fact, confirm that this was an assassination attempt against President Maduro. And he said that it was carried out by drones - by several drones that he said were armed with explosives. And the communications minister also said that seven National Guard troops who were lined up there for the military parade were injured in this assassination attempt.

GONYEA: And can you tell us more about the event Maduro was speaking at?

OTIS: Well, Don, this was an event to mark the 81st anniversary of the National Guard of Venezuela. Maduro was there speaking. He was talking a lot about, you know, military issues and the terrible state of the Venezuelan economy. And he was promising to fix the economy right when this attack happened. And, again, the video clip was very short. State television broke away almost immediately. You can hear Maduro saying, you know, let's get out of here. Let's sort of move to the right. You can hear his voice on the video as people try to - his aides try to evacuate him.

And then the - and then state television just cut away and went to, you know, different programming. And we didn't hear anything more until the communications minister came back on and said that this - yes, this was an assassination attempt against President Maduro - who, by the way, is extremely unpopular.

GONYEA: Well, can you just briefly remind us what's been going on with his government? We know it's been a tense few years in Venezuela.

OTIS: That's exactly right, Don. The economy - his main problem is the economy. Venezuela's an oil-rich country, but Maduro's socialist government has badly mishandled the economy, and now we've got a situation where there's hyperinflation. The International Monetary Fund says that hyperinflation could hit one million percent by the end of this year. That - you know, that's - we're talking about post-World War I Germany or Zimbabwe levels of inflation. That caused...

GONYEA: I think we're going to need to leave it there, John. I know you'll keep monitoring this for us.

We've been talking to John Otis, who's been following the events in Venezuela. Thanks, John.

OTIS: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.