Venezuela government says it has thwarted attempted ‘coup’

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Venezuela’s socialist government said on Wednesday it has derailed an attempted coup, claiming the United States, Colombia and Chile colluded in a plot by officers to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and install a general in his place, a minister said.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the plan involved both active and retired army officers and was to have been executed between Sunday and Monday this past weekend.

He accused Colombia’s right-wing President Ivan Duque of “planning coups, assassinations of the president” as well as implicating Chile’s conservative President Sebastian Pinera and US National Security Advisor John Bolton in the plot.

Rodriguez accused Maduro’s former intelligence chief Cristopher Figuera – who has defected to the United States – of seeking “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for supporting a failed military uprising against the president in April.

Figuera “turned out to be a mercenary” the minister said in Caracas.

Venezuelan authorities said earlier this month that 17 people had been charged with attempting a coup on April 30, during opposition leader Juan Guaido’s failed attempt to inspire an uprising, when he called on the armed forces to rise up against Maduro.

The effort failed to shift the military’s allegiance and Guaido was backed by only around 30 military personnel. The revolt petered out after two days of deadly clashes between protesters and security forces.

Guaido is recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries, including the United States, which has imposed a series of crippling sanctions on Maduro’s government.

Russia, Maduro’s staunchest foreign backer along with Cuba and China, announced earlier Wednesday it was withdrawing military “technicians” which it deployed in Venezuela in a show of support three months ago.

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