Social media took off late Tuesday night after video caught a helicopter circling Venezuelan government buildings, including the Supreme Court. Reports indicate that the helicopter “fired 15 shots at the Interior Ministry, where scores of people were at a social event, and dropped four grenades on the court, where judges were meeting.”

President Nicolas Maduro immediately slammed the attack, which he called a coup attempt. But other theories have come to light with the opposition saying Maduro staged the coup attempt as a way to crackdown on his opponents and grab more power.

We have covered the turmoil in Venezuela as the country crumbles under Maduro’s socialist policies. People have no food, medical access, or jobs. Opponents have flooded the streets demanding change.

Maduro is hanging by a string and desperate to keep power.

The government stated that investigative police pilot Oscar Perez stole the helicopter. Reuters reported:

A video posted on Perez’ Instagram account around the same time showed him standing in front of several hooded armed men, saying an operation was underway to restore democracy.

Perez said in the video he represented a coalition of military, police and civilian officials opposed to the “criminal” government, urged Maduro’s resignation and called for general elections. “This fight is … against the vile government. Against tyranny,” he said.

Local media also linked Perez to a 2015 action film, Suspended Death, which he co-produced and starred in as an intelligence agent rescuing a kidnapped businessman.

Maduro’s Reaction

Maduro exclaimed that the US government pushed for the coup attempt as a way “to gain control of Venezuela’s oil reserves.” From Reuters:

“Sooner rather than later, we are going to capture the helicopter and those behind this armed terrorist attack against the institutions of the country,” Maduro said.

“They could have caused dozens of deaths,” he said.

Maduro pointed his finger at former Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres. He also declared that he “activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace.”

Too Many Doubts

But evidence has piled up against Maduro’s claims. Bloomberg noted that there is “absence of evidence that grenades had been tossed and gunshots fired.”

Opposition members and others have expressed doubt, like administrative assistant Giofran Blanco:

“This is completely fictitious,” said Giofran Blanco 24-year-old administrative assistant. “Supposedly there is a coup last night and the streets are calm today? The government is just trying to stop the pressure on the streets.”

Those people also mentioned that earlier on Tuesday, Maduro announced “that he and supporters would take up arms if his socialist government was violently overthrown by opponents.” They think he staged this incident as a way to justify his earlier comments and move ahead with them.

Rodriguez, the man Maduro blamed for the attack spoke to Reuters on Wednesday:

“I’m not at all convinced by the helicopter incident,” Rodriguez told Reuters on Wednesday, saying the figures behind Perez in the video looked like dolls and expressing surprise the helicopter could fly freely and also not injure anyone.

“Conclusion: a cheap show. Who gains from this? Only Nicolas for two reasons: to give credibility to his coup d’etat talk, and to blame Rodriguez,” he added, referring to himself.

Opposition-controlled legislature leader Julio Borges agrees:

“It seems like a movie,” said Julio Borges, leader of the opposition-controlled legislature, of the helicopter raid.

“Some people say it is a set-up, some that it is real … Yesterday was full of contradictions … A thousand things are happening, but I summarize it like this: a government is decaying and rotting, while a nation is fighting for dignity.”

Citizen Gary Guillen finds it odd that Perez somehow got away:

But there seemed to be little enthusiasm for the pilot Perez. “It’s a joke. How many people have been arrested for raising a flag? Yet someone who takes a helicopter, gets away,” said Gary Guillen, walking in a Caracas street. “This sounds more like government tactics than anything else.”

The police said no one could find Perez, but discovered the helicopter “in Higuerote, on the Caribbean coast.”