One day after Maduro's new "constituent assembly" expelled chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz - the highest-ranking member of President Maduro’s administration to break ranks with the authoritarian - from her post and ordered her to stand trial, confirming fears that it would use its unchecked powers to root out government critics, Venezuelan authorities claimed to have suppressed a military rebellion near the central city of Valencia, an official said on Sunday morning.
As Reuters reports, socialist Party deputy Diosdado Cabello made the announcement shortly after the release of a video showing a group of men in military uniform announcing a rebellion and calling for a broad uprising against President Nicolas Maduro. Cabello also said that there was a "terrorist" attack at a military base controlled by troops loyal to the government and several people were arrested, according to AP. One witness in the area of a military base in the town of Naguanagua reported hearing gunshots before dawn, but Cabello said the situation had been brought under control.
On Twitter, Cabello said that troops acted quickly to control the situation in the early morning at the Paramacay base in the central city of Venezuela.
En la madrugada atacantes terroristas entraron al Fuerte Paramacay en Valencia, atentando contra nuestra FANB. Varios terroristas detenidos.— Diosdado Cabello R (@dcabellor) August 6, 2017
Luego del ataque terrorista al Fuerte Paramacay, se activaron planes de defensa, despliegue de tropas, para garantizar la seguridad interna.— Diosdado Cabello R (@dcabellor) August 6, 2017
In a video released on Sunday, a man who identified himself as Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former National Guard captain, and flanked by about a dozen men in military uniforms said: "We demand the immediate formation of a transition government." He added that "this is not a coup d'etat. This is a civic and military action to re-establish constitutional order. But more than that, it is to save the country from total destruction." In the video, Caguaripano added that any unit refusing to go along with its call for rebellion would be declared a military target.
LO ÚLTIMO | Pronunciamiento de presuntos militares contra Maduro, lo encabeza el Capitán GNB Juan Carlos Caguaripano, prófugo desde 2014 pic.twitter.com/JdN4qdDifN— Alberto Rodríguez (@AlbertoRT51) August 6, 2017
Video clips posted on Twitter on Sunday morning showed civilians singing the national anthem in front of the 41st armorder brigade in the Valencia military base.
Previously on Saturday evening, prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was returned home to serve his sentence under house arrest, days after being hauled back to prison in the middle of the night in a move that drew international condemnation. The activist's wife Lilian Tintori said in a message on Twitter that she and her husband remained committed to achieving "peace and freedom for Venezuela."
Lopez was released from prison July 8 and placed under house arrest after serving three years of a 13-year sentence on charges of inciting violence at opposition rallies. Many human rights groups considered him a political prisoner. But he was taken back into custody last Tuesday along with former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma in what many believed was a renewed crackdown on the opposition following the election of delegates to a new, all-powerful constitutional assembly charged with overhauling the nation's charter.
It is unclear if a potential military coup was confined to just one base, and if it is indeed contained as the ruling regime claims; it is also unclear if this was a legitimate "rebellion" or another staged operation. Considering that just over a month ago, a famous action movie star manned a helicopter and "dropped grenades" in what was said to be an attempted coup, but many said was merely staged theater to generate empathy for the Maduro regime, it is difficult to keep track what in Venezuela is a real and what is a fake military uprising.