Venezuelan soldiers steal weapons and call for coup against President Maduro on social media before being swiftly arrested
- Group of military officials stole arms from a National Guard outpost in Venezuela
- Series of videos have appeared on social media with armed men in military fatigues saying they won’t recognise President Nicolas Maduro’s government
- Venezuela’s military has claimed the mutinous soldiers have been arrested
A group of Venezuelan soldiers have been arrested after stealing weapons and calling for a couple against President Nicolas Maduro on social media.
The military officials stole arms from a National Guard outpost after a sergeant had called for the removal of the country’s leader.
The armed forces said that it had captured all those involved in what it described as ‘treasonous’ acts motivated by ‘obscure interests tied to the far right.’
Hours later, security forces fired tear gas against protesters in a poor neighbourhood just two miles from Venezuela’s presidential palace.
The disturbance early on Monday started after a group of men dressed in military fatigues and carrying assault weapons published a series of videos on social media saying they won’t recognise Maduro’s government.
Maduro’s administration has come under increasing domestic and international pressure over a newly launched second term that the opposition-controlled congress and many nations consider illegitimate.
A group of Venezuelan soldiers have been arrested after stealing weapons and calling for a couple against President Nicolas Maduro (pictured) on social media
In one of the videos, a man identifying himself as third Sergeant Figueroa, addressing the ‘people of Venezuela,’ urges his compatriots to take to the streets to show support for their rebellion.
‘You asked to take to the streets to defend the constitution, well here we are,’ he said in a video shot at night in which several heavily armed men and a national guard truck can be seen in the background.
‘You wanted us to light the fuse, so we did. We need your support,’ he added.
Venezuela’s government said a small group of guardsmen took a captain in charge of a police station in western Caracas captive, then moved across the capital in two military trucks to the poor neighborhood of Petare, where they stole a cache of weapons from another outpost.
They met resistance and were caught hours later at a national guard outpost just over half a mile from the Miraflores presidential palace. The armed forces said all the weapons had been recovered and the mutinous troops captured.
In the adjacent neighbourhood of Cotiza, a small group of residents could be seen banging pots and pans, burning trash and throwing rocks at police officers stationed outside the national guard post.
Security forces fired tear gas against protesters in a poor neighbourhood just two miles from Venezuela’s presidential palace in the early hours of today
National Police work to disperse anti-government protesters shortly after a mutiny by a national guard unit in the Cotiza neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela today
‘We must defend our homeland,’ Maria Fernanda Rodriguez, a 36-year-old manicurist, told The Associated Press, her eyes welling from the tear gas.
Juan Guaido, president of the congress, said the incident is a sign of growing discontent within the armed forces.
‘Our military knows that the command chain is broken by the usurpation of the presidency,’ Guaido said in a message on Twitter in which he reiterated a promise to support all members of the armed forces working to restore Venezuela’s democratic order.
Pressure has been mounting on Maduro to cede power after he began as second, six-year term this month.
The U.S. and dozens of other foreign governments consider it illegitimate, in part because he banned several leading opponents from running against him.
While discontent among Venezuelans is rising amid widespread food shortages and hyperinflation, Maduro is believed to have the loyalty of his top military command. In the past troops have easily put down small uprisings.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said on Twitter that those responsible for the incident would be punished with the full force of the law.