Venezuela Regime Says Guaido, Two Dozen More Planned Coups
(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s government offered what it said was new proof of a series of planned coups led by National Assembly President Juan Guaido and more than two dozen other people, including many retired military and police officers.
Showing videos and photographs of alleged plotters and accomplices on state television, Nicolas Maduro’s regime said that for over 14 months it has tracked plans to kill him and overthrow his government.
“We have been present at every meeting where they were trying to topple us,” Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said. The government has more than 56 hours of video footage of the coup plotters’ meetings, he said.
More than two dozen people, aided by “Israeli, U.S. and Colombian terrorist agents,” planned to block Caracas highways and seize military and intelligence units, Rodriguez said. Opposition leaders and retired military and police officers were among the planners, he said. Retired general Eduardo Paez was the leader of one operation, Rodriguez said.
Plotters also mulled carrying out the murder of Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello and other government leaders, along with the bombing of telecommunications infrastructure and the seizure of arms located at the central bank’s headquarters, Rodriguez said.
On April 30, Guaido and his team appeared outside a Caracas airbase before dawn to announce an uprising, but the effort sputtered hours later when top military brass ignored the call and security forces took control of the streets. Some of Rodriguez’s information released on Wednesday was related to the events of that day, while more was related to other alleged plans against the government.
Plotters considered freeing retired General Raul Baduel, a former Defense minister under Hugo Chavez who is being held at intelligence service headquarters in Caracas, Rodriguez said. The discussions involved proclaiming Baduel president at the La Carlota military base, he said.
Maduro said authorities ``captured a fascist gang of terrorists'' that planned a coup, including retired general Ramon Lozada Saavedra.
``We are capturing them one by one,'' Maduro said on state television.
Stripped of Immunity
Guaido said on Tuesday during a National Assembly session that around 200 soldiers are detained in Venezuela for participating in alleged conspiracy plans. The Penal Forum NGO says the government holds 688 political prisoners.
At least five military officers have been arrested in recent days, said Rocio San Miguel, president of the watchdog group Control Ciudadano.
The pro-government National Constituent Assembly has stripped the legislative immunity of 13 opposition lawmakers for alleged links with the April 30 uprising. Several of the lawmakers have left the country, while others are hiding out in local embassies or safe houses.
Public Prosecutor Tarek William Saab said earlier this month that of 34 people being investigated for the April 30 events, 17 had been arrested.
(Updates with Maduro comments starting in eighth paragraph)
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