Venezuelan Authorities Make Arrests Linked to Destabilization Plots

Venezuelan authorities made major arrests of individuals with paramilitary ties, who were also linked to planned opposition violence associated with last week's September 1st mobilizations.


Caracas, September 6th, 2016 ( – The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) confirmed on Monday during an interview on state news channel Venezuela de Televisión (VTV) that authorities arrested several individuals identified as snipers set to carry out plans unexecuted during the opposition’s September 1st mobilizations.

For many, last week’s mobilizations were marked with great potential for bloodshed and guarimba violence as the political opposition has been insistent on a recall referendum happening this year despite protocols that would make anything earlier than January 2017 an unconstitutional process.

According to Sebin authorities, these individuals prepared to carry out selective assassinations on September 1st during the mobilizations. Since the targeted assassinations did not occur last week, Sebin authorities believe the individuals were ready to execute their plans Wednesday September 7th.

Sebin Director, Gustavo González López, said, “They [those arrested] had already made plans for September 7th, which indicate there are still intentions to carry out a coup.”

In total, five people were arrested in association with these plans. They include: Giovanni Vásquez, Joel José Méndez Semprún, Enrique Gerónimo González Ramírez and Manuel Alejandro González.

Additionally, Venezuelan officials reiterated that they issued arrest warrants for opposition leaders Lestor Toledo and Yorman Barillas, who are allegedly among the plan’s masterminds.

Both Toledo and Barillas are said to be in Maicao, La Guajira, Colombia. As such, the Ministry of Domestic Affairs has requested that the Colombian government repatriate them to Venezuela. González López said that the plans were designed during three meetings with former Colombian President Álavaro Uribe as well as other members of Venezuela’s National Assembly.

Uribe is notorious for founding paramilitary groups in Colombia and supporting their operations throughout the region. Venezuelan authorities have regularly linked Uribe to key opposition figures as well as ongoing attempts to destabilize Venezuelan society and overthrow the Bolivarian government.

Venezuelan authorities say that the preparative meetings took place in Maicao, as well as Mara and Maracaibo in Zulia state.

The Venezuelan military likewise detained four individuals in Páez municipality, Apure state where they found ammunition and 35 mm grenades, among other objects. Three men and one woman were detained, referred to in Venezuelan media as “guerillas”, part of a military operation of 20 soldiers under the orders of General Hermes Hernández Marcano by the Arauca River.

More details surrounding their case, including the individual’s’ identities have not yet been released.