Venezuela arrests three air force generals 'plotting coup'

CARACAS Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:27pm EDT

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores palace in Caracas March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores palace in Caracas March 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has arrested three air force generals accused of plotting a coup in league with opposition politicians during the country's rumbling civil unrest, the president said on Tuesday.

The move follows weeks of violence around anti-government protests that have killed 36 people in the nation's worst unrest for a decade.

In recent years, Venezuela's socialist government has routinely accused its rivals of scheming to seize power by force and assassinate its leaders, although it has rarely followed up with concrete proof of such headline-grabbing claims.

"Last night we captured three generals ... who tried to raise the air force against the legitimate, constitutional government," President Nicolas Maduro said on state TV during a meeting with South American foreign ministers in Caracas.

He did not name the officers, but said the plot was revealed by colleagues of the generals who were "alarmed" when they heard of the conspiracy. The three were now in custody of military courts.

"This group has direct links with sectors of the opposition. They were saying that this would be the decisive week ... in the belief that Venezuela did not know how to defend itself."

Hardline protesters are demanding that Maduro resign, while he says they are seeking a coup like the one 12 years ago that briefly ousted his predecessor and mentor, the late Hugo Chavez.

The numbers in the streets are far fewer than those who turned out back then, however, and there have been no signs that the current turmoil could force Maduro from office.

The demonstrations began in February with sporadic rallies by university students. They intensified after three people were shot dead after a February 12 opposition rally in the capital.

As well as political change, demonstrators are complaining about high inflation, shortages of basic foods, and one of the worst rates of violent crime in the world.

Opposition leaders say the government often invents theatrical conspiracy theories to distract the population from Venezuela's real problems. However, Chavez was forced out for 36 hours and the U.S. government has generally taken an antagonistic line to 15 years of socialist rule in Venezuela.

(Editing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Comments (8)
joebialek1 wrote:
This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest occurring in Venezuela.

As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the Venezuelan people. Their efforts are similar to what is happening in many other parts of the world.

Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political correctness in the United States is the right to have one’s voice heard. This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Venezuelan people should continue to defy Nicolas Maduro’s powerful ecurity forces so that Venezuelan democracy can begin to thrive. It is unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in South America; something that happens all too often domestically as well. It is not the Venezuelan people that are attempting to seize power but rather it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the citizens of Venezuela? Why is the government in power utilizing such political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

Nicolas Maduro, you have had almost one year to lead Venezuela and have failed them by your own choosing. The days of the despotic regime are finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue to sweep among the South American nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among all citizens of Venezuela that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may encounter during this crisis. To the people of Venezuela, the trumpet of freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve your sacred heritage, promote your children’s future and obtain the blessings of liberty we all cherish.

Venezuela, the hour of your redemption is at hand. As you the rightful citizens move forward to reclaim your own country, rise and strike! In the name of those who were murdered fighting for everyone’s rights, rise and strike! To end the rule of this evil regime, rise and strike! Let no one continue to fear this man. Let every Venezuelan be strong and fight on for their freedom. Rise and strike!

Nicolas Maduro, let the people go!

JOE BIALEK
Cleveland, OH USA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEOOZDbMrgE

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Bertrand Russell

Mar 25, 2014 4:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
joebialek1 wrote:
This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest occurring in Venezuela.

As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the Venezuelan people. Their efforts are similar to what is happening in many other parts of the world.

Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political correctness in the United States is the right to have one’s voice heard. This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Venezuelan people should continue to defy Nicolas Maduro’s powerful ecurity forces so that Venezuelan democracy can begin to thrive. It is unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in South America; something that happens all too often domestically as well. It is not the Venezuelan people that are attempting to seize power but rather it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the citizens of Venezuela? Why is the government in power utilizing such political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

Nicolas Maduro, you have had almost one year to lead Venezuela and have failed them by your own choosing. The days of the despotic regime are finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue to sweep among the South American nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among all citizens of Venezuela that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may encounter during this crisis. To the people of Venezuela, the trumpet of freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve your sacred heritage, promote your children’s future and obtain the blessings of liberty we all cherish.

Venezuela, the hour of your redemption is at hand. As you the rightful citizens move forward to reclaim your own country, rise and strike! In the name of those who were murdered fighting for everyone’s rights, rise and strike! To end the rule of this evil regime, rise and strike! Let no one continue to fear this man. Let every Venezuelan be strong and fight on for their freedom. Rise and strike!

Nicolas Maduro, let the people go!

JOE BIALEK
Cleveland, OH USA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEOOZDbMrgE

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Bertrand Russell

Mar 25, 2014 4:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
joebialek1 wrote:
This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest occurring in Venezuela.

As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the Venezuelan people. Their efforts are similar to what is happening in many other parts of the world.

Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political correctness in the United States is the right to have one’s voice heard. This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Venezuelan people should continue to defy Nicolas Maduro’s powerful ecurity forces so that Venezuelan democracy can begin to thrive. It is unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in South America; something that happens all too often domestically as well. It is not the Venezuelan people that are attempting to seize power but rather it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the citizens of Venezuela? Why is the government in power utilizing such political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

Nicolas Maduro, you have had almost one year to lead Venezuela and have failed them by your own choosing. The days of the despotic regime are finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue to sweep among the South American nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among all citizens of Venezuela that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may encounter during this crisis. To the people of Venezuela, the trumpet of freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve your sacred heritage, promote your children’s future and obtain the blessings of liberty we all cherish.

Venezuela, the hour of your redemption is at hand. As you the rightful citizens move forward to reclaim your own country, rise and strike! In the name of those who were murdered fighting for everyone’s rights, rise and strike! To end the rule of this evil regime, rise and strike! Let no one continue to fear this man. Let every Venezuelan be strong and fight on for their freedom. Rise and strike!

Nicolas Maduro, let the people go!

JOE BIALEK
Cleveland, OH USA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEOOZDbMrgE

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Bertrand Russell

Mar 25, 2014 4:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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