Maduro Denounces US, Colombia Complicity in Terrorist Attack

Marsha Scott
August 8, 2017

Venezuela's military on Monday hunted a group of "mercenaries" who made off with weapons in an attack on an army base carried out against what they called the "murderous tyranny" of President Nicolas Maduro.

The new assembly, which Maduro says is needed to enshrine socialism more profoundly in the constitution, has the power to dissolve or reconstitute all government bodies.

The clashes sparked just as a video showing more than a dozen men dressed in military fatigues, some carrying rifles, began circulating widely on social media.

"Those who escaped are being actively searched for, and we are going to capture them", Maduro said.

The 545-member assembly has unanimously elected well-known allies of Mr Maduro to its leadership.

The court's order was seen as anti-democratic and although it was quickly annulled, near-daily demonstrations snowballed into a general protest calling for a new presidential election.

"We are united now, more than ever, with the courageous people of Venezuela who do not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's murderous tyranny", said a man claiming to be Captain Juan Caguaripano of the National Guard, who deserted in 2014. "This is a civic and military action to re-establish constitutional order".

In 2014, the military issued an arrest warrant for Caguaripano and 30 other soldiers after he had called for a rebellion, saying the "armed forces can not be and are not indifferent" to what he called a "Castro-Communist system", a year after Maduro had taken over the presidency from Hugo Chavez.

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

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That so-called Constituent Assembly is meant to draft a new constitution to maintain Maduro in power, but the election last last month was lambasted as deeply flawed by global observers.

He also said that those who carried out the attack were "civilian delinquents, dressed in military garb" and a lieutenant who had deserted months earlier.

There were also rumours of the "rebellion" spreading to other army bases but there has so far been no independent confirmation of that.

Dozens of locals gathered outside the base chanting, "Freedom!" and troops dispersed them with tear gas.

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 the man who recorded the video was a former officer dismissed three years ago after being charged with rebellion and betraying the homeland. He said he would ask for "the maximum penalty for those who participated in this terrorist attack".

In 2014, Caguaripano released a 12-minute video denouncing Maduro during a previous wave of anti-government unrest. He later reportedly sought exile after a military tribunal ordered his arrest, appearing in an interview on CNN en Espanol to draw attention to dissatisfaction within the ranks over Venezuela's demise.

While the "quick response" of the military was praised by President Maduro, 10 of the attackers remain on the run after raiding the arms depot.

Maduro and his Socialist Party have "completely taken hostage" Venezuela's institutions through "an undemocratic mechanism that is utterly dictatorial", the leader of the opposition-controlled legislature, Julio Borges, told reporters. "It's very hard to create critical mass without being found out", he said.

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

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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