Thirty Venezuelan Military Officials Allegedly Under Arrest for Coup Plotting
Thirty Venezuelan military officers of different ranks, including several generals, have been arrested for alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, a leading national newspaper has reported.
The information, reported by Ultimas Noticias, was attributed to “high level sources” in Miraflores presidential palace. The majority of those arrested are from the Venezuelan Air Force, however a few officers from the National Guard, Navy and Armed Forces were also arrested.
According to the sources, loyal military figures previously informed the national intelligence service that “something strange” was being planned by a group of officers, and due to this the alleged conspirators had been under observation by authorities for some time.
The UN report adds that a “destablisation attempt” was supposedly planned to occur on 20 March with an air operation and strafing of soldiers, among other incidents, to create “confusion” and “clashes”.
Further, the report alleges that “it has been confirmed” that the group of officers has been in contact “with at least one opposition leader”. There exist rumours that this politician is Julio Borges of the Justice First party, of which former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is leader. According to the rumours, Borges met with a group of 60 military officials, to which those arrested would presumably belong.
Both Borges and Capriles participated in the nationally-broadcast dialogue meeting with the government last Thursday.
Authorities have not yet offered public comment on Ultimas Noticias’ allegations on the arrest of the thirty military officers.
On 25 March Maduro announced that three air force generals had been arrested “for conspiracy” but has not offered further details while the investigation continues. The government has also said that it has information of a plot from within a sector of the opposition to kill protest leader Leopoldo Lopez and blame the act on government supporters in order to provoke a coup attempt.
The Venezuelan armed forces are considered to be generally loyal to the government. The head of the Operational Strategic Command of the Armed Forces, Gen. Vladimir Padrino, said yesterday that a while a campaign was underway to “manipulate” the armed forces (FANB), the troops are committed to their role of upholding the Venezuelan constitution.
Venezuela has experienced a wave of opposition protests, riots and street barricades since early February, after hard-line leaders of the opposition called for resistance to the government in a strategy called “The Exit”.