Leader Of Venezuela Opposition Arrested, Car Towed Away With Him Inside

Caracas: Venezuelan intelligence agents detained opposition leader Juan Guaido's congressional deputy on Wednesday, using a tow truck to drag his vehicle away with him inside, prompting the U.S. government to warn of "consequences" if he was not released.

The SEBIN intelligence agency seized Edgar Zambrano, vice president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which Guaido heads, in the first arrest of a lawmaker since Guaido tried to spark a military uprising last week to bring down President Nicolas Maduro's government.

Venezuela's pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly agreed on Tuesday to strip Zambrano and six other lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity to allow their future prosecution. The opposition does not recognize the assembly's decisions.

The Supreme Court had earlier accused those lawmakers of conspiracy, rebellion and treason, and accused another three opposition legislators of the same crimes on Wednesday.

The opposition says Maduro has stacked the court with his own supporters, while the U.S. government this week threatened to sanction all its members.

The U.S. government's Venezuelan embassy, now based in Washington, said Zambrano's "arbitrary detention" was "illegal and inexcusable."

"Maduro and his accomplices are those directly responsible for Zambrano's security. If he is not immediately freed, there will be consequences," the embassy said on Twitter.

An attempted uprising last week led by Guaido, recognized by the United States and other Western countries as the rightful head of state, failed to dislodge Maduro, as have a series of U.S. sanctions against his government. Maduro decried the events as an attempted coup.

"One of the principal conspirators of the coup has just been arrested," Diosdado Cabello, head of the Constituent Assembly, said in comments broadcast on state television.

"They will have to pay before the courts for the failed coup that they attempted," he said.

'Kidnapped'

Zambrano said on Twitter at about 6.40 pm local time (2240 GMT) SEBIN agents had surrounded his vehicle outside the headquarters of his Democratic Action party in Caracas' La Florida district.

"We were surprised by the SEBIN, and after refusing to let us leave our vehicle, they used a tow truck to forcibly transfer us directly to the (SEBIN headquarters) Helicoide," he said. It was not yet clear if Zambrano was already at the Helicoide.

Guaido said on Twitter: "The regime has kidnapped the first vice president."

Guaido invoked the constitution in January to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as illegitimate after he secured re-election last year in a vote widely viewed as fraudulent. Maduro has overseen the collapse of Venezuela's economy, which has shrunk by half over the past five years, forcing more than 3 million Venezuelans to emigrate.

The Constituent Assembly removed Guaido's parliamentary immunity in early April. Authorities have not tried to arrest him since then, but Maduro has said he will "face justice."

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has threatened Maduro's government with a harsh response should it ever detain Guaido.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court's head, Maikel Moreno, rebuffed the U.S. government's threats to sanction his court's members if they did not reject Maduro's government and Guaido.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Moreno and the seven principal members of the court's constitutional chamber in 2017 for rulings that "usurped the authority" of the National Assembly.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday the Trump administration would soon sanction the 25 remaining members of the court. Pence said the United States was lifting economic sanctions on a former Venezuelan general who turned against Maduro in order to encourage other Maduro allies to follow suit.

The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, said: "We demand the SEBIN stop the intimidation, respect the lawmakers' parliamentary immunities, and immediately release Edgar Zambrano."

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Why doesn’t Trump sanction Marco Rubio?

As Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel pointed out, the failed coup attempt that took place in Venezuela on Tuesday: “is another blow for the empire”.

And it must have been a very strong blow if you take into account the reaction that the failed attempt caused on US President Donald Trump:

"If Cuban troops and militia immediately do not cease their military and other operations with the purpose of causing death and destruction of the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, along with highest-level sanctions, will be imposed on the island of Cuba”.

“Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will return to their island quickly and peacefully”, the US leader posted on his Twitter account.

It seems that the Cuban president had predicted such a threat, because at the aforementioned meeting and after praising the civic-military unity and the response of the Venezuelan people before the so-called “Operation Liberty”, he had added: “This is the response to the support Nicolas Maduro has, something that U.S. does not want to acknowledge and that’s why, it constantly resorts to say that we are the ones to blame for the situation in Venezuela, and they are not able to acknowledge that the Bolivarian people has also been loyal to Chavez and his Revolution”.

Other immediate replies to Trump’s latest threats against Cuba were two tweets by the foreign ministers of Cuban and Venezuela.


Cuban FM Bruno Rodríguez reiterated once again that there are no Cuban troops in Venezuela: "#US Nat Sec Advisor Bolton is a pathological liar who misinforms President Trump. There are no Cuban troops in #VENEZUELA, nor are there any Cubans participating in military or security operations. Only medical staff on humanitarian missions. I strongly reject Trump’s full blockade threat”.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s FM Jorge Arreaza asserted with full certainty: "@realDonaldTrump permanently denounces Fake News and fake information, but with regard to Venezuela and Cuba he devotes himself to disclose them irresponsibly. The White House should review the quality of its advisers and sources of information. They take them from mistake to mistake".

It is not the first time that a US president let his “advisors” trick him. Undoubtedly, the best example is that of J. F. Kennedy, whom the then hawks, the CIA and Cuban annexationist bourgeoisie that fled to the United States in 1959, swore up and down that after the landing of the mercenary brigade in Girón Beach, a popular uprising against the Revolution would immediately take place. We already know the end of that story that lasted less than 72 hours.

The same thing has been happening in Venezuela for months and might happen again, even, in case of a North American invasion against that Latin American nation. As Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) suggested today at a news conference, “The United States cannot understand that its aggressions increase the patriotism of the Venezuelan people, rather than diminishing it”.

It’s obvious that Trump has let himself be tricked by characters such as Sen. Marco Rubio, another liar of the same stock of Elliot Abrams, Bolton or self-confessed Mike Pompeo. In his speech at the University of Miami, on February 18, the US president defined his “great friend” Marco Rubio, as “the man who I call, especially when we’re talking about Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua".

Translated Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Putin Analyzes Events in Venezuela with his Security Council

Moscow, April 30 (Prensa Latina) Russian President Vladimir Putin analyzed the situation in Venezuela during a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said on Tuesday.

Putin debated at the NSC the events taking place in Venezuela, whose government denounced the attempted coup d'etat with a small group of military deserters that gathered in the Altamira distributor, near La Carlota air base.

Peskov avoided commenting particulars of the debate in that body about what is happening in Venezuela, whose authorities denounced the failed coup, with the participation of self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido.

According to images received in Moscow, coup plotters, led by right-wing politicians, hijacked two tanks and tried to carry out a 'false flag' operation.

Alexis Rodriguez Cabello, commander of the Integral Defense Regions, affirmed that many of the soldiers arrived deceived around the aforementioned base.

Russia has always rejected foreign meddling aimed at destabilizing Venezuela and advocates an internal dialogue between opposition and government.

The Russian press highlighted the denunciation by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, of Colombia's direct complicity in the attempted coup, after Bogota called Venezuelan soldiers to 'be on the right side.'

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Blackwater Founder Lobbying for Mercenaries in Venezuela to Oust Maduro: Report

Founder of the private security firm Blackwater wants to send hired mercenaries to Venezuela and topple the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro. 

Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of United States President Donald Trump, has been pushing for a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela’s legitimately elected President Nicolas Maduro according to a report by Reuters.

RELATED: Live Updates: Venezuelans Gather at Presidential Palace to Reject Coup Attempt

Over the last several months Prince has met several influential Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelans living abroad to seek investment for the said operations.

In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, the illegally self-proclaimed “interim president.”

According to an unnamed source, Prince had conducted meetings as recently as mid-April.

Guaido’s spokesperson Edward Rodriguez said that the Venezuelan opposition has not discussed such operations with Prince.

The two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s pitch said it calls for starting with intelligence operations and later deploying 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire from Colombia and other Latin American nations to conduct combat and stabilization operations.

He is reportedly seeking US$40 million from private investors to hire soldiers which would be made up of “Peruvians, Ecuadoreans, Colombians, Spanish speakers.”

Some U.S. and Venezuelan security experts told of the plan by Reuters, called it politically far-fetched and potentially dangerous because it could set off a civil war.

A Venezuelan close to the opposition said that private contractors might be useful for providing security for a new administration if Maduro’s government is ousted by the opposition.

The report came just a day before the opposition led by Guaido initiated a plan called "operation liberty" in an effort to carry out a coup against the government of Nicolas Maduro with the help of the United States government of Donald Trump. 

RELATED:

Venezuelan Gov't Denies Takeover of La Carlota Air Base as part of Coup Attempt

A spokesman for Prince, Marc Cohen, said this month that Prince “has no plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela” and declined to answer further questions.

“He does have a solution for Venezuela, just as he has a solution for many other places,” said Lital Leshem, director of investor relations at Prince’s private equity firm, Frontier Resource Group.

Prince was a pioneer in private military contracting during the Iraq war when the U.S. government hired Blackwater primarily to provide security for State Department operations there.

In 2007, Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square in Baghdad, sparking international outrage. One of the Blackwater employees involved was convicted of murder in December and three others have been convicted of manslaughter.

Prince renamed the Blackwater security company and sold it in 2010, but he recently opened a company called Blackwater USA, which sells ammunition, silencers, and knives. Over the past two years, he has led an unsuccessful campaign to convince the Trump administration to replace U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan with security contractors.

Since 2014, Prince has run the Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group, which has close ties to the state-owned Chinese investment company CITIC and helps Chinese firms operating in Africa with security, aviation, and logistics services.

Prince donated US$100,000 to a political action committee that supported Trump’s election. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is the administration’s education secretary.

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Venezuelan coup attempt ‘directly planned in Washington’ – FM

The Venezuelan foreign minister has accused the US-backed opposition of planning Tuesday’s coup attempt in Washington, and said the government would work to keep the peace.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told Reuters by telephone that only around 30 soldiers had supported the coup instigated by opposition leader Juan Guaido. He described the plot as “another chapter” of an American effort to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

While downplaying the scale of the uprising, Arreaza said it did not originate within the military, but that opposition leaders planned the event in Washington.

Also on rt.com US-backed Guaido calls for Venezuela military uprising in VIDEO of him surrounded by soldiers...

"It is not a coup attempt from the military. This is directly planned in Washington, in the Pentagon and Department of State, and by [National Security Adviser John] Bolton," Arreaza told Reuters.

"They are leading this coup and giving orders to this man Guaido," he said.

Bolton, a long-time major backer of the Venezuelan opposition, went public on Tuesday with his support for the coup attempt, pledging that “the United States stands with the people of Venezuela” while slamming Maduro’s “usurpation of democracy.”

Also on rt.com Bolton calls on Venezuelan military to ‘protect the constitution’ by backing Guaido coup attempt...

Speaking to RT Spanish earlier on Tuesday, Arreaza said that “916,050 square kilometers” –nearly the whole of Venezuela– is under the Maduro government’s control, except for “one small bridge and a highway near the military airbase” where Guaido-led opposition and a group of military supporting him are located.

He added that he’s aware that Guaido is already under investigation, but said he could not comment on what steps the judiciary would take next.

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Bolton calls on Venezuelan military to ‘protect the constitution’ by backing Guaido coup attempt

US National Security Advisor John Bolton called on Venezuela’s military to side with Washington protégé Juan Guaido, after the opposition leader declared a military coup in Caracas on Tuesday.

Bolton, one of the leading US figures in the operation to topple the Venezuelan government, called on Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino to side with Guaido, claiming this would protect Venezuela’s constitution.

: The FANB must protect the Constitution and the Venezuelan people. It should stand by the National Assembly and the legitimate institutions against the usurpation of democracy. The United States stands with the people of Venezuela.

Padrino earlier rejected Guaido as a traitor and said on Twitter that the national armed forces (FANB) were loyal to the legitimate President Nicolas Maduro.

Also on rt.com Venezuelan defense minister says army stands with President Maduro, denounces Guaido as traitor...

Guaido, the US-backed self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ of Venezuela, announced on Tuesday morning that the time for decisive action against the Maduro government has come and showed a group of people in military uniform standing by his side.

The government said only a small number of ‘traitors’ were supporting Guado’s ‘attempted military coup’ and promised to take control of the situation.

READ MORE: ‘Traitor troops’ stage coup attempt in Venezuela – VP

The opposition figure claimed to be the leader of Venezuela in January, declaring its elected president a ‘usurper.’ Washington immediately recognized him as such, as did US regional allies. The US has treated Guaido as if he were the actual leader of the country, allowing him to seize US-based assets belonging to Venezuela, appoint ‘officials,’ and otherwise act in an ‘official’ capacity.

The US has also provided a shipment of ‘humanitarian aid’ for Guaido’s people to take across the Colombian border into Venezuela, and supposedly distribute it to the local population in a bid to gain some popularity. The attempt was rejected by international relief organizations as a politicized publicity stunt, and ultimately failed when border guards wouldn’t take Guaido’s site and stopped the trucks.

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Venezuelan Gov't Denies Takeover of La Carlota Air Base as part of Coup Attempt

Likewise, the national government has called on the Venezuelan people to move to the Miraflores presidential palace to reject the coup attempt.

President of the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela Diosdado Cabello denied capture of La Carlota Air Base after a small group of soldiers revolted to promote a coup d'état with the far right against the government of Nicolas Maduro. 

"No military installation has been violated in the country, they are on the street in the Altamira Distributor and we are directing operations from La Carlota Air Base," he explained.

Likewise, the national government has called on the Venezuelan people to move to the Miraflores presidential palace to reject the coup attempt.

Early this Tuesday Vice President of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, reported that a group of soldiers were located in the Altamira distributor, in eastern Caracas, to promote a coup along with the far right.

 

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Live Updates: Venezuelan Defense Minister Rejects Guaido's Calls For Coup

The Venezuelan opposition lawmaker has once again called on the military to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro 

The self-proclaimed "interim president" of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, went live on Twitter this morning to call on the military and people to begin an uprising against the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro. 

Main government offcials have rejected the attamepted coup and called on the country's population to reject the coup and march towards the Miraflores presintial palace to protect the country from the far-right, U.S.-backed coup.

RELATED: Guaido Takes Credit for Humanitarian Aid Delivery to Venezuela

Updates are all in Venezuelan time. 

UPDATE 9:05 

The Mexican government has issued a statement saying it was worried about the escalation of Violence in Venezuela and a possibility of bloodshed. It also called for resuming peace dialogue efforts that were agreed on in Montevideo.

UPDATE 8:00

Bolivian President Evo Morales and Cuban President Diaz-Canel issued statements rejecting the military coup attempt in Venezuela.

teleSUR English Retweeted Evo Morales Ayma

We strongly condemn the attempted coup in , by the right wing that is submissive to foreign interests. Sure that the courageous Bolivarian Revolution at the head of the brother , will be imposed on this new attack of the empire.

Condenamos enérgicamente el intento de golpe de Estado en , por parte de la derecha que es sumisa a intereses extranjeros. Seguros que la valerosa Revolución Bolivariana a la cabeza del hermano , se impondrá a este nuevo ataque del imperio.

teleSUR English Retweeted Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez

We reject this coup which pretends to fill the country with violence. The traitors who have placed themselves at the forefront of this subversive movement have used troops and police with war weapons on a public road in the city to create anxiety and terror.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez Retweeted Jorge Rodríguez

Rechazamos este movimiento golpista que pretende llenar de violencia al país. Los traidores que se han colocado al frente de este movimiento subversivo, han empleado tropas y policías con armas de guerra en una vía pública de la la ciudad para crear zozobra y terror

UPDATE 7:30 am

Country's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino rejected the coup attempt and said that the country's legitimate military forces would respond to any attempt to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro. "We reject this coup movement that aims to fill the country with violence. The pseudo-political leaders who have placed themselves at the forefront of this subversive movement have used troops and police with weapons of war on a public road in the city to create anxiety and terror."

UPDATE 7:15 am 

Following Guaido's plea, the Venezuelan Vice President of Communications, Jorge Rodriguez, tweeted that the military is confrontating a group of traitors seeking to promote a coup d'Etat. "We inform to Venezuelan people that we are currently confrontating and deactivating a small group of traitors in our military personnel who positioned themselves in the Altamira Distributor to promote a Coup d'Etat against the Constitution and the peace of the Republic."

UPDATE 7:05 am

President of the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, denied the capture of the Carlota Air Base, after a small group of soldiers appeared to be supporting the Guaido coup. 
"No military installation has been violated in the country, they are on the street in the Altamira Distributor and we are directing operations from the Carlota Air Base," he explained. Likewise, the national government has called on the Venezuelan people to move to Miraflores to reject the coup attempt. 
 
 
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