VENEZUELA: A group of 27 soldiers rose up against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at a command post in Caracas on Monday, but they were quickly arrested after posting an appeal for public support in a video.
“We are the professional troop of the National Guard against the regime, which we completely repudiate. I need your help, take to the streets,” a man who identified himself as the group’s leader said in a video circulated on social media.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino issued a statement shortly afterward saying the soldiers had been arrested.
Before the attack on a National Guard command center in northern Caracas where they were captured, the men had assaulted another security post, taking four prisoners and making off with “weapons of war,” the statement said.
“During the arrest, stolen weapons were recovered and (the mutineers) are providing useful information to intelligence services and the military justice system,” added Padrino, who said the rebels would “face the full force of the law.” Maduro’s right-hand man and head of the Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, said 25 soldiers were arrested at the site, and two more were detained elsewhere.
Cabello identified the rebel leader as Sergeant Major Luis Bandres Figueroa. The Supreme Court, which is dominated by regime loyalists, later took aim at the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declaring its leadership illegitimate and its decisions invalid.
Last week, the assembly had declared Maduro an “usurper,” and offered members of the military and the government amnesty if they broke with Maduro. It also called for a day of protests against the president on Wednesday. The mutiny unfolded in the early hours of the day and culminated at the National Guard’s Cotiza command, which was later surrounded by police and troops.
“They were neutralized, surrendered and captured in record time,” Cabello tweeted.
“They are already confessing details and the first thing they said is that they were offered villas and castles but were left alone, they were tricked. We will win,” he added, without specifying who allegedly made the offer. The armed forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters who gathered outside the command post, banging pots and blocking roads with burning garbage in support of the uprising.
“If they unite with our country, we’re with them, we’re going to stay in the streets. Freedom!” shouted one woman, who declined to be identified. “We want Maduro to go, we’re fed up,” added a man.
“What is happening in the National Guard in Cotiza is a demonstration of the general feeling that reigns within” the armed forces, Guaido said on Twitter.