Venezuela captures troops rebelling in Caracas

Security forces in Venezuela have arrested 27 members of the National Guard who took part in a public mutiny against the regime of Nicolas Maduro. Previously, the guardsmen urged Venezuelans to take to the streets.

Venezuela's military put down an uprising by a group of soldiers in Caracas on Monday, after surrounding a command post claimed by the mutineers and arresting 25 soldiers. Another two were arrested at a different location, officials said.

"They were neutralized, surrendered and captured in record time," Diosdado Cabello, a close aide of President Nicolas Maduro, said of the rebelling troops.

"They are already confessing details and the first thing they said is that they were offered villas and castles but were left alone, they were tricked," he added, without providing details.

Read more: Venezuela jails German right-wing journalist for espionage

Previously, the mutineers used social media to decry their army leaders and the Maduro regime. A man who identified himself as Sergeant Alexander Bandres Figueroa urged the people to back them up by gathering in the streets.

"You wanted us to light the fuse, so we did. We need your support," he said in a video, with several armed men and a National Guard truck visible behind him.

Venezuela on the brink

The last straw

In March 2017, violent protests erupted across the country in response to a Supreme Court decision to strip the legislative branch of its powers. Amid an international outcry, President Nicolas Maduro reversed the decision, but it was too late. Thousands continued to take to the streets, calling for new elections. More than 100 people were killed in clashes with security forces.

Venezuela on the brink

Hunger, a growing problem

The violence added to the ongoing economic and political crisis in Venezuela. Many Venezuelans spend more than 30 hours a week waiting in lines to shop, and are often confronted with empty shelves when they finally enter a store. President Maduro blames the crisis on US price speculation. The opposition, however, accuses the Socialist government of economic mismanagement.

Venezuela on the brink

Health care in crisis

The crisis has even affected health care in the oil-rich nation. Venezuelans often head to Colombia to collect medical supplies to send home, as seen in this picture. Hospitals across Venezuela have compared conditions to those seen only in war zones. As patient deaths rise, health officials have sounded the alarm on the rise of malaria and dengue fever.

Venezuela on the brink

Power grab

By July 2017, Venezuela's pro-government Constituent Assembly was established. For observers, it had all the hallmarks of a power grab. The new body adopted the authority to pass legislation on a range of issues, effectively taking away the powers of Venezuela's elected congress, which was under the opposition's control. The move drew wide international condemnation.

Venezuela on the brink

The West sanctions

In response to the political crisis, the United States and European Union imposed a series of sanctions against ruling officials. The US blacklisted members of the Constituent Assembly and froze all of Maduro's assets that are subject to US jurisdiction. The EU banned arms sales to the country.

Venezuela on the brink

Government victorious in regional elections

In October 2017, Venezuela held two votes: regional elections and elections for governors, which were long overdue. The opposition boycotted the vote, but then split, as some candidates and small parties chose to participate. This caused a deep rift within Maduro's opponents. The government went on to sweep the vote, which detractors say was unfair and heavily favored the regime.

Venezuela on the brink

Debt default

In November 2017, the oil-rich, cash-poor nation faced its day of reckoning. Credit ratings agencies declared Venezuela and its state-run oil company in "selective default." But Russia offered to restructure the South American country's debt to ensure Caracas pays its other creditors. US and EU sanctions, however, limited the chance of an agreement.

Venezuela on the brink

Presidential elections scheduled

The National Assembly announced in January 2018 that it would grant Maduro's call for snap presidential elections. The electoral authority, CNE, held the elections on May 20. The EU, the US and 14 Latin American nations warned that they would not recognize the results. The mainstream MUD opposition alliance boycotted the vote, leaving only one possible outcome.

Venezuela on the brink

Maduro wins ...

Maduro was re-elected to a second six-year term with about 68 percent of the vote. Turnout was only 46 percent, according to electoral authorities. However, the MUD opposition alliance put turnout at less than 30 percent. The Organization of American States (OAS) called the elections neither free nor fair.

Venezuela on the brink

... Guaido assumes power

But weeks into the new year, the situation took a drastic turn. On January 23, 2019, parliament president Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela — a move that was quickly recognized by US President Donald Trump. Maduro called it a US-backed "coup." Days later, the US sanctioned Venezuela's state oil firm, while Guaido staked his claim on the country's foreign assets.

Rebels raid outpost for weapons

According to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, the men had captured several prisoners, including a police captain, and had raided an outpost for "weapons of war." They then proceeded to a different outpost, where they were captured.

Padrino said the stolen weapons were retrieved and that the rebels would face "the full force of the law."

The mutineers' call to action prompted a gathering in front of the command post, with police firing tear gas to disperse the protesters.

'We are not asking you to shoot'

Maduro has managed to maintain the loyalty of Venezuela's army chiefs, despite the economic meltdown and political chaos in the country.

Related Subjects

The uprising comes as government critics prepare for another push against the Maduro administration. The opposition-dominated parliament recently declared Maduro a "usurper" and called for a day of protests on Wednesday.

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DW News | 10.01.2019

Maduro begins second term as president of Venezuela

Ahead of the news of the rebellion, parliament chief Juan Guaido urged the military leaders to break ranks with Maduro.

"We are not asking you to mount a coup. We are not asking you to shoot," Guaido said in an online video. "On the contrary, we are asking you not to shoot at us, but rather to defend together with us the right of our people to be heard."

The parliament also offered amnesty to the members of the military and state officials if they abandoned Maduro.

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dj/se (AP, AFP)