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Venezuela: Maduro foes in failed attack on army base

Caracas suspended from regional trade bloc

A TERRORIST attack on the Venezuelan military base at Fort Paramacay in Valencia was foiled yesterday by the army, military veteran and former president Diosdado Cabello said.

He said there was “absolute normality among military units in the rest of the country.”

A video was posted online by the attackers, who wore military fatigues and carried assault rifles. They declared themselves “in rebellion” and said any troops who didn’t join their uprising would be considered “military targets.” Several have been arrested.

Mr Cabello has huge prestige in Venezuela for his role in defeating the 2002 coup d’etat that briefly ousted Hugo Chavez’s government. After the coup leaders — many of whom are involved in the current opposition riots, which have killed over 120 people in recent months — were thwarted, he held the presidency for a few hours until Chavez returned to office, making him the world’s secondshortest-serving president.

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said terrorist attacks on the military were the opposition’s last resort after it failed to win the army’s support for a coup.

The assault came after Latin American trade bloc Mercosur suspended Venezuela indefinitely on Saturday, calling for the country’s newly elected constituent assembly to be dissolved and for the release of “political prisoners” such as Leopoldo Lopez, who is currently serving a sentence for his role in 2014’s “guarimba” riots, which left 43 people dead.

At the Mercosur meeting Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes called on Venezuelan authorities to “stop with this” — presumably the constituent assembly sessions.

He accused them of inflicting “torture” on the Venezuelan people and offered to harbour opposition supporters who flee across the border.

But Venezuelan minister Jorge Arreaza pointed out that if Mercosur wanted to take action against breaches of the “democratic order” it should focus on Brazil, whose unelected President Michel Temer seized power last year.

The constituent assembly dismissed chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega at the weekend and set up a commission to look into the months of violence and seek ways to end it.

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