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Venezuela troops quash attack on base by anti-Maduro group

08 August, 2017, 00:12 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz

In the past year, the country's currency, the bolivar, has lost 94 percent of its value on the exchange market, drastically reducing the real wages of Venezuelan workers, even as the so-called boliburguesia, the capitalist layer that, together with the military, forms the principal base of support for the Maduro government, has enriched itself off of currency speculation and manipulation.

It said an intense search is underway to arrest the remaining attackers.

Critics say the new assembly simply gives President Nicolás Maduro unlimited power.

Last week, following the dismantling of the elected legislature in Venezuela, we looked at the possibility of the military failing to support President Nicolas Maduro and perhaps even removing him from office to restore order.

Speaking in an online video surrounded by uniformed men, he said that his group was "in a combined rebellion with the courageous people of Venezuela, against the murderous tyranny of Nicolas Maduro".

The Fanb confirmed in a communique the aggression was carried out by a group of civilians dressed in military uniforms, including a deserter of the military institution who lived in the United States.

Maduro said the captured lieutenant was "actively giving information and we have testimony from seven of the civilians".

"Each step by the Constituent Assembly is a step towards the precipice by this government", the leader of the opposition parliament, Julio Borges, told a news conference in Caracas on Sunday. Although the order was quickly annulled, near-daily demonstrations snowballed into a general protest calling for a new presidential election.

"Today we had to defeat terrorism with bullets", Maduro said.

Others in Valencia, however, were quoted by the local media as expressing the opinion that the entire affair had been "staged" by the government to divert growing popular anger.

Around 120 people have reportedly been killed in protests fuelled by anger at the socialist government over food shortages, soaring inflation and high crime.

At the same time, Defense Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino issued a statement in which he noted that in the morning there was a "paramilitary-type terrorist attack against the 41st Armored Brigade of the Bolivarian Army", located in Valencia, admitting that the rebels managed to steal weapons from the fort. He said he would ask for "the maximum penalty for those who participated in this terrorist attack".

The leader of the alleged coup attempt in Valencia was identified as Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former captain in the national guard who was cashiered in 2014 after making public declarations against the government.

Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country، and opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted the military to break with Maduro over what they call his erosion of democracy and brutality toward demonstrators.

Mr Maduro became foreign affairs minister in 2006 and vice-president in 2012 under the late president Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.

Like Sunday's uprising, most manifestations of dissent among troops have been small and isolated so far.

"It's still very hard to know to what extent there are significant divisions within the military", Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue said recently.

Maduro frequently refers to opposition leaders and protesters as "fascists".

The constitutional assembly is expected to meet again Tuesday, while lawmakers in the opposition-controlled National Assembly scheduled their own session for Monday, vowing to continue fulfilling their responsibilities no matter what the assembly might do.

President Maduro claims the new constituent assembly is meant to bring calm to a country that has seen months of violent unrest.

"I am still Venezuela's chief prosecutor", she said to applause.


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