Army puts down anti-Maduro rebellion at Venezuelan military base

Latin America

Venezuela Political CrisisA man argues with a lineup of Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guards officers outside of Military base Paramacay in Valencia, Venezuela, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. Venezuelan ruling party chief Diosdado Cabello said the military squashed a “terrorist” attack at the military base Sunday, shortly after a small group of men dressed in military fatigues released a video declaring themselves in rebellion. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Hernandez)

In Venezuela, the commander of the army says troops have put down a rebellion at a military base.

The uprising occurred at the Paramacay base outside the central town of Valencia. It comes after a newly elected national assembly convened in Caracas on Friday.

CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs reports from Caracas.
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The incident happened during the early morning hours at the base. Residents who live nearby said they heard repeated rounds of gunfire starting around 4:30 a.m.

Dozens of locals gathered outside the base chanting, “Freedom!” and troops dispersed them with tear gas.

The clashes sparked just as a video showing more than a dozen men dressed in military fatigues, some carrying rifles, began circulating widely on social media. In the recording, a man who identified himself as Capt. Juan Caguaripano said the men were members of the military who oppose the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro and called on other units to declare themselves in open rebellion.

“This is not a coup d’état,” he said. “This is a civic and military action to re-establish the constitutional order.”

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez characterized the attackers as a “paramilitary” expedition carried out by civilians dressed in uniforms. He did not name any of the participants but said they included a lieutenant who had abandoned his post and that a former officer dismissed three years ago after being charged with rebellion and betraying the homeland had recorded the video.

For four months Venezuela has been in the throes of political upheaval that has left at least 120 people dead.

Opposition leaders have called on the military, which historically has served as an arbiter of political disputes, to break with Maduro over what it considers violations of the constitution.

But the president is believed to still have the institution’s support. He and his predecessor, the late President Hugo Chavez, worked diligently to assure their allegiance.

Like Sunday’s uprising, most manifestations of dissent among the troops have been small and isolated thus far.

The attack capped an already tense weekend when a new constitutional assembly that will rule with nearly unlimited powers voted to remove chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz.

Story by The Associated Press with additional information from CGTN News.