Detained Colonel Says Maria Corina Machado Was at the Forefront of the Opposition Violence

The following is a report that appeared in the privately-owned Caracas newspaper Ultimas Noticias this morning, detailing the sworn confession made by the retired Venezuelan colonel Jose Gustavo Arocha Perez, who admitted to colluding with the former opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado in a plot to create unrest and oust the Venezuelan government.

By Willmer Poleo Zerpa- Ultimas Noticias

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Venezuela's opposition leader Maria Corina Machado arrives at the state prosecutor office in Caracas December 3, 2014. 
(Reuters/Jorge Silva)
Venezuela's opposition leader Maria Corina Machado arrives at the state prosecutor office in Caracas December 3, 2014. (Reuters/Jorge Silva)
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The following is an abridged report that appeared in the privately-owned Caracas newspaper Ultimas Noticias this morning, detailing the sworn confession made by the retired Venezuelan colonel Jose Gustavo Arocha Perez, who admitted to colluding with the former opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado in a plot to create unrest and oust the Venezuelan government.

Machado was initially charged with magnicidio in Spanish, or plotting to kill president Nicolas Maduro, but was eventually indicted on on December 3rd for the lesser crime of conspiracy.

Pedro Mario Burelli, the former PDVSA director mentioned in Arocha Perez’s confession as the financier of the guarimba protests, has evaded arrest since May, and is reportedly living in Washington, D.C.

***

The beginning and initial development of the guarimbas (anti-government manifestations of a violent nature) was definitely not spontaneous, nor any natural consequence of an alleged political and economic crisis. No- it was a pre-meditated action rehearsed in many countries with success, though it failed in Venezuela on numerous occasions.

In fact, its preparations began four years ago during the so-called Fiesta Mexicana (a meeting in the Mexican capital) where various opposition politicians participated, along with retired military, business people and lawyers now residing in the United States, and two Serbian citizens who served as instructors.

There was such hope for the success of this macabre plan, that there was even talk and preparation for a transition [government], of which Maria Corina Machado was in charge. [Machado] would form part of the junta with Ramon Guillermo Aveledo and others.

These details were obtained from the sworn declaration before a Supreme Court tribunal made by a retired coronel who was detained by the [intelligence office] SEBIN during an investigation of the financing of the guarimbas.

The official in question is the retired colonel Jose Gustavo Arocha Perez, who was indicted by Martial Court for the crime of embezzling funds of the Armed National Forces.

After the guarimbas began in key cities across the countries, a correspondence was intercepted that linked the coronel to the conspiracy, resulting in his detainment.

Confession

After realizing he was cornered, Arocha Perez decided to collaborate with the Venezuelan state and invoke the special suspect [law], laid down in article 40 of the Natural Code for Penal Processes, by which he promised to aid the state in exchange for a reduced sentence and to remain at liberty during the length of the trial.

“Pedro Mario Burelli would call me, given that in the aforementioned meetings general Ascanio [Emilio Ascanio Tovar] said that I was his right-hand man and that, if he wasn’t available, to do it with me. That’s why he [Burelli] would send me voice messages informing me of Maria Corina Machado’s preparations for the transition, and that she would form part of the government junta along with Ramon Guillermo Aveledo and other political players I’m unaware of; additionally he would ask general Ascanio to increase control and communication with the active generals he needed to carry out the government’s fall.”

The Leader

Days before the guarimbas began, it had been decided that Maria Corina Machado would be the leader of the conspiracy- that decision was made in the United States.

“In the first days of January 2014, I travelled with general Ascanio Tovar to the US, to attend a meeting called by Pedro Mario Burelli along with Mr. Peter Ackerman, an advisor to “non-violent protest” operations…. there we delivered an envelope of money. The purpose of that meeting was, among other things, to analyze non-violent struggle, and how to direct massprotests against state institutions, and the urgency of promoting a lead figure for these actions and a unifying idea to achieve our aims. Maria Corina was mentioned to do that, considering her standing political profile and the fact that she was trusted by Pedro Mario Burelli, who had promised to finance the operation and meet with the authorities of the [opposition party alliance Democratic] Unity Roundtable to propose and guarantee her as the leader, and to plant the operation in Venezuela as soon as possible,” said the colonel Arocha Perez in his sworn declaration.

Green Light for Violence

“In February of this year, the violent activities began in different cities of the country, and two months later [in April] Maria Corina Machado called a meeting in her home in the Los Chorros neighborhood [of Caracas] where the question of the military situation was analyzed. General Ascanio Tovar explained that via the military there was no possibility of a coup d’état. And so it was necessary to generate an escalation of protests, as was agreed during the Fiesta Mexicana, to create the circumstances for the FANB [Armed Forces] to feel obligated to take control of the situation… Deputy Maria Corina Machado’s comment was that we must dispose of the government as soon as possible, and that she had the resources to do so,” Arocha declared.

On December 3rd, Maria Corina attended a citation of the Public Ministry where she was informed of the evidence against her and the ongoing investigation of her part in the conspiracy.

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