Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has congratulated the military for “defeating” the plotters of a coup after a day of protests called for by opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Maduro called the opposition supporters a “small group that tried to fill the country with violence” and confirmed his government has faced several “modalities” of a coup d’état.
President @NicolasMaduro: “We have 5 soldiers, 2 colonels who are injured after being shot at [by coup plotters]”
President @NicolasMaduro: “80% of those soldiers who were brought along for the coup had been tricked into it…they were told they were carrying out another operation, but as soon as they saw Leopoldo Lopez and opposition leaders, they left.”
He pinned Tuesday’s violence on the US, who the president believes masterminded the failed attempt to overthrow his government.
The president also announced the appointment of “three special prosecutors” to examine “criminal” actions by the opposition, noting that “we have colonels wounded by bullets and in intensive care.”
Some of the protests were peaceful and others led to intense skirmishes, yet fatalities were avoided throughout the day. A few dozen people were injured by rubber bullets, tear gas and – allegedly – live ammunition. An armored vehicle was also recorded ramming into a cluster of Guaido supporters.
At least five soldiers and two colonels were also injured in the clashes after being shot by coup plotters, Maduro claimed. At the onset of the violence, Venezuela’s defense minister warned early in the day that the army would resort to force if necessary.
Guaido called for more protests on Wednesday, as part of what he titled ‘Operation Freedom’. He insisted once again that the opposition is supported by the military.
Maduro stated that 80 percent of troops involved in the mutiny attempt had abandoned Guaido, with only a small group of about 20 officers “handing over their souls to the coup-mongering far right.” Those military officers who answered Guaido’s calls for regime change in the country, Maduro noted, were lured by the opposition “under false pretenses,” but once they came to their senses, they “left the coup leaders alone” and surrendered.
The Venezuelan leader also refuted opposition claims that the military base of La Carlota, in the east of Caracas, was captured, stressing that the facility “was never taken.”
“As of now, there is no indication of any military support outside of this very small detachment of troops,” reporter Lucas Koerner told RT America from Caracas, claiming that many officers had been deceived into believing that Tuesday’s events were a “drill led by the government.”
“None of them are ranking officers that command troops of any standing, therefore they are largely irrelevant,” Koerner added.
Maduro defended the use of force, saying the opposition planned to lead the country into a “civil war.” The president also vowed that Venezuela would stay on the course of the Bolivarian Revolution and fight the interventionist Monroe Doctrine of the US.