Venezuela claims it has foiled a coup attempt against Nicolas Maduro – alleging that America was behind the plot.
Government ministers claim that the U.S. colluded with Colombia and Chile in a plot to assassinate Maduro and install an army general in his place.
Naming Donald Trump ally John Bolton as one of the conspirators, Caracas said at least six alleged plotters had been arrested.
Socialist leader Maduro, who has been clinging to power since a wave of protests erupted earlier this year, vowed to be ‘ruthless’ against his enemies.
Caracas has also accused opposition leader Juan Guaido, Maduro’s rival for power, of plotting a ‘bloodbath’ in the South American nation.
Venezuela claims it has foiled a coup attempt against Nicolas Maduro (pictured in Caracas last week) – alleging that America was behind the plot
Venezuela’s communications minister Jorge Rodriguez said the plan involved active and retired army officers.
It was to have been executed between Sunday and Monday this past weekend, he claimed.
Surveillance of the plotters and a recorded ‘confession’ by one of them revealed that the plotters intended to take over three military bases, including one in Caracas, Rodriguez said.
‘We were in all the meetings to plan the coup d’Etat. We were in all the conferences,’ Rodriguez said, suggesting that government informers had infiltrated the alleged plotters.
The plotters hoped to spring Raul Baduel – a former defense minister under late president Hugo Chavez – from jail to proclaim him president, Rodriguez said.
Baduel was demoted last year by Maduro as part of a purge of senior military officers.
At least six of the alleged plotters had been detained, the minister said in a televised speech in Caracas.
Four of the officers were arrested last Friday, a move denounced by opposition leader Guaido.
Venezuela’s communications minister Jorge Rodriguez (pictured) said a coup plot involving active and retired army officers was to have been executed this past weekend
Caracas accused opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido (pictured) of planning a ‘bloodbath’ as part of a what the government called a coup attempt
Guaido declared himself interim President in January and has been recognised by Washington and much of Europe, but Maduro remains the de facto leader.
He said he would continue to call on the armed forces to abandon Maduro – an appeal which has so far failed to gain him enough support.
‘The call we have made and that we will continue to make, is to the military family, it’s that the armed forces put themselves on the side of the constitution,’ he told reporters.
He dismissed the coup claims as a ‘new novel by the regime,’ saying the media had ‘lost count’ of how many times the same accusations had been repeated.
Venezuelan authorities recently announced that 17 people had been charged with attempting a coup on April 30, during Guaido’s failed attempt to inspire an uprising.
Naming Donald Trump ally John Bolton (pictured in Jerusalem on Tuesday) as one of the conspirators, Caracas said at least six alleged plotters had been arrested
Millions of people have fled Venezuela’s spiralling economic and financial crisis. Some of them are seen at a border post in Peru earlier this month
Several figures close to Guaido have been detained in the wake of the uprising, though not the lawmaker himself.
However, in the wake of Rodriguez’s accusations, he told reporters he had ‘frustrated’ an attempt to kidnap several members of his entourage on a Caracas highway.
Washington has imposed crippling sanctions on Maduro’s government, holding the president responsible for the collapse of the Latin American oil giant, which has seen millions flee amid widespread shortages of basic goods and medicines.
Russia, Maduro’s staunchest foreign backer along with Cuba and China, announced earlier Wednesday it was withdrawing military ‘technicians.’
It deployed the military personnel in Venezuela in a highly-publicized show of support for Maduro.