Monday, August 7, 2017

Maduro Regime Puts Down Attempted Military Uprising in Venezuela

At the Miami Herald, "Venezuela quells anti-government uprising on military base":
Venezuela squashed a small uprising on a military base Sunday, the first inkling of armed unrest in the beleaguered South American country after a new all-powerful legislative body condemned by the international community began targeting opposition foes.

Though the would-be rebellion, which left at least one man dead, appeared short-lived, it reignited spontaneous anti-government protests that had been absent for days after nearly four months of prolonged street tumult. Security forces once again repressed the demonstrations with tear gas and rubber pellets.

Further clashes loom. The opposition-held parliament intends to convene Monday at the legislative palace, which was taken over Saturday by the new constituent assembly. Its delegates, all ruling socialist party members elected last week in a vote widely seen as fraudulent, face potential sanctions from the U.S. and countries in Latin America and Europe.

The government of President Nicolás Maduro insisted Sunday’s incident was an outside attack staged by civilians hired by his political opponents. While security forces claimed the skirmish was quickly quelled, the defense minister acknowledged an ongoing search for an unknown number of stolen military weapons.

The extended confusion over what took place before dawn Sunday at the Paramacay military base in Valencia, a city in central Venezuela about two hours west of the capital, Caracas, fed opposition calls for dissenting troops to rebel.

They were fueled by the morning release online of a video — the kind used in failed coup attempts against previous Venezuelan governments — showing more than a dozen men dressed in military fatigues and holding assault rifles. They declared themselves in rebellion and urged like-minded security forces to stage a revolt against Maduro.

Without citing the video, socialist party deputy Diosdado Cabello asserted early on, via Twitter, that an irregular situation at the base was under control. But for hours, no government official took to the airwaves, communicating only in Twitter posts and written statements. State-run television replayed an episode of the late Hugo Chávez’s weekly TV show, “Aló Presidente.” The convening of a new “truth commission” was postponed.

When Maduro finally appeared on TV, at 3 p.m., he congratulated military leaders for their swift response but also admitted security forces were still hunting down a group of men from the morning assault who had gotten away.

“We’re going to capture them,” he said. “A week ago we defeated them with votes. Today, we were forced to defeat them with bullets.”

In an incongruous scene, Maduro spoke from a park, standing on a logo with colorful hearts — and surrounded by bodyguards. He admired a naturalist exhibit of animal skulls and skins, and cheered on a little girl standing in the middle of a circle of happy children, whacking a piñata.

According to Maduro, the scuffle at the base began at 3:50 a.m. when the instigators surprised overnight guards and went directly to weapons caches...