Five dead, 233 arrested in Venezuela protests: Attorney General

Published May 7, 2019, 7:57 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Five people died and 233 were arrested in protests sparked by a failed military uprising against Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro last week, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said on Monday.

“All those cases are being investigated,” Saab said in a television interview.

A small number of military personnel on April 30 joined opposition leader Juan Guaido outside an air base in the capital Caracas calling on those inside to join the rebellion.

The insurrection quickly petered out, though, and 25 rebel soldiers sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy.

Saab, a Maduro loyalist, confirmed that 18 arrest warrants were issued against “civilians and military plotters,” although he gave no names.

In an interview with AFP on Monday Guaido blamed the failure on unkept promises by other members of the armed forces.

Maduro has threatened to go after “traitors” after crisis-wracked Venezuela’s military leadership reaffirmed its loyalty to the socialist president.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the re-arrest of key opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, who made a sensational appearance alongside Guaido outside the air base claiming to have been released from house arrest by soldiers.

The 48-year-old has sought refuge in the Spanish ambassador’s residence.

Lopez was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2014 after he was accused of inciting violent protests against Maduro, which left 43 people dead.

He was then transferred to house arrest in 2017.

On Wednesday, Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori claimed their Caracas home had been broken into and ransacked while she was out.

Venezuela lurched into a political crisis in January when National Assembly speaker Guaido challenged Maduro’s authority by declaring himself acting president.

Guaido said that Venezuela’s constitution allowed him to do so after the opposition-controlled but sidelined legislature declared Maduro a usurper over his controversial 2018 re-election.

Venezuela has suffered five years of recession that has seen more than 2.7 million people flee poverty and insecurity since 2015, according to United Nations figures.

Of the 30 million people left behind, the UN says almost a quarter are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.