Venezuela base at­tacked; at­tor­ney gen­eral sacked

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Venezue­lan rul­ing party chief Dios­dado Ca­bello says that there was a “ter­ror­ist” at­tack at a mil­i­tary base con­trolled by troops loyal to the gov­ern­ment and sev­eral peo­ple were ar­rested yes­ter­day. Ca­bello re­ported via Twit­ter that troops acted quickly to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion in the early morn­ing at the Para­macay base in the cen­tral city of Venezuela.

The an­nounce­ment came after a small group of men dressed in mil­i­tary fa­tigues, some armed with as­sault ri­fles, re­leased a video declar­ing them­selves in re­bel­lion in Carabobo state, where Va­len­cia is lo­cated. In the video a man iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as Capt. Juan Caguar­i­pano said that any unit re­fus­ing to go along with its call for re­bel­lion would be de­clared a mil­i­tary tar­get. The South Amer­i­can has for months been in the throes of a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis with protests that have left more than 100 dead, nearly 2,000 wounded and over 500 de­tained.

On Satur­day 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.

Al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties

That as­sem­bly voted unan­i­mously on Satur­day to re­move Venezuela’s chief pros­e­cu­tor, a long­time gov­ern­ment loy­al­ist who broke with Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro in April. Cries of “traitor” and “jus­tice” erupted dur­ing the vote to oust Luisa Ortega from her post. Del­e­gates said they were act­ing in re­sponse to a rul­ing by the gov­ern­ment-stacked Supreme Court, which banned Ortega from leav­ing the coun­try and froze her bank ac­counts while it weighs crim­i­nal charges against her for al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Ortega re­fused to rec­og­nize the de­ci­sion and vowed to con­tinue de­fend­ing the rights of Venezue­lans from Maduro’s “coup” against the con­sti­tu­tion “with my last breath.” “This is just a tiny ex­am­ple of what’s com­ing for ev­ery­one that dares to op­pose this to­tal­i­tar­ian form of gov­ern­ment,” Ortega said in the state­ment she signed as chief pros­e­cu­tor. “If they’re do­ing this to the chief pros­e­cu­tor, imag­ine the help­less state all Venezue­lans live in.”

She al­leged that author­i­ties were des­per­ate to get their hands on dossiers con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion on dirty deal­ings by high-level of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing sen­si­tive de­tails about mil­lions of dol­lars in bribes paid by Brazil­ian con­struc­tion gi­ant Ode­brecht. As­sem­bly del­e­gates later swore in as her re­place­ment Om­buds­man Tarek Wil­liam Saab, who was re­cently sanc­tioned by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to pro­tect pro­test­ers from abuses in his role as the na­tion’s top hu­man rights of­fi­cial.

— AP

VA­LEN­CIA: Res­i­dents shout slo­gans against Venezuela’s Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro out­side of Para­macay Mil­i­tary base.

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