Tuesday, July 23, 2024

LATIN AMERICA | 23-01-2024 15:26

Venezuela arrests 32 in alleged plot to kill President Nicolás Maduro

Authorities have accused civilians and soldiers of treason for their alleged part in the attempted assassination of President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuelan authorities have arrested 32 civilians and soldiers after a months-long investigation into their alleged part in a US-backed conspiracy to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro, the prosecutor's office said Monday.

All suspects have "confessed and revealed information about the plans," Attorney General Tarek William Saab told reporters in Caracas. He said they had been accused of treason and convicted for their crimes.

Maduro loyalist Saab said arrest warrants have been issued for 11 other people, including rights activists, journalists and soldiers in exile, for the alleged plot that also targeted Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino.

Maduro urged maximum punishment for the people arrested and said he has ordered the Defence Ministry to cashier and expel the military personnel involved in the plot.

"The maximum sentence must be applied against them... for terrorism, conspiracy and treason," Maduro said on his television programme.

Maduro had already denounced on January 15 what he said was a plot against him.

Padrino told the same press conference that an operation that started last year to uncover details of the alleged conspiracy was kept secret as it coincided with "talks" between Maduro and the United States that resulted in a prisoner swap.

He blamed the plot on the "far right," as the Maduro government usually refers to the opposition, with "support" of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Officials released a video that purportedly implicates opposition leader María Corina Machado in the plot, and Saab vowed that "more arrests will follow," without naming names.

Maduro was elected in 2018 for a second, successive term not recognised by dozens of countries and met with a barrage of sanctions. These have been eased since his government agreed to hold free and fair elections in 2024 with observers present.

Machado, however, remains barred from holding public office despite winning overwhelming support in a primary vote last October. She was disqualified by the authorities for alleged corruption and for backing sanctions against Caracas.

In a report last year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern about the "persecution of dissidents" in Venezuela as well as the "intimidation, persecution, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders and political activists."

Maduro, who has not confirmed whether he will seek another term, frequently denounces plans to overthrow him, usually with the same co-conspirators: the United States, the opposition and Colombian drug-traffickers.



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