Lara, August 7 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The 41st Armored Brigade of Fort Paramacay in Carabobo State was attacked by civilians and ex-military officials in the early hours of Sunday morning as part of an unsuccessful attempt to provoke a military rebellion, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed.
According to the president, the attack occurred at 3:50 am when 20 armed men entered the facilities and headed directly for the arms depository, where a confrontation ensued until approximately 8am. The confrontation left two dead and one injured. A further ten have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Moments before the coordinated assault, flyers were dropped outside the military base referring to the action as ‘Operation David’ and calling for all members of the armed forces to join the “military rebellion”. The messages also told the soldiers who refused to mutiny against the government that they should consider themselves a "military objective” and “face the consequences”.
The attack was also accompanied by a video released on social media by former military commander Juan Caguaripano Scott, who had reportedly fled the country during the 2014 opposition protests known as the guarimbas and has since lived between Miami, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.
"We declare ourselves in legitimate rebellion, united today more than ever, with the brave Venezuelan people, to refuse to recognize the murderous tyranny of Nicolás Maduro. This is not a coup d'état, this is a civic and military action to restore order and to save the country from total destruction,” states Caguaripano in the video.
It is not clear when nor where the video was recorded.
Though Caguaripano and several international media sources have referred to the attack as a civic-military rebellion, the majority of those captured were not active military personnel. One of the detained men was identified as ex-lieutenant Oswaldo José Gutiérrez Guevara who deserted the military after being investigated for theft. The remaining nine were paid civilians recruited from the states of Zulia, Yaracuy and Lara, and all had criminal records, said the Ministry of Defense. They were aided and abetted by First Lieutenant Yefferson Gabriel García Dos Ramos, who was in charge of the fort's weapons depository.
Authorities are yet to release the names of the two fatalities, but it is known that both Caguaripano and Dos Ramos were on the ground at the time of the attack and managed to evade capture.
Government officials have since described the offensive as a terrorist attack as opposed to a military rebellion, citing the lack of serving military officials involved in the operation.
According to a tweet from Vice Minister of International Communication, William Castillo, the attack was a "propaganda operation” with “civilians disguised as current and former military officials”.
The Minister of Information and Communication Ernesto Villegas also announced that opposition forces in Venezuela were attempting to create and circulate “fake news” about the country, as well as “trying out the formula [used in] the Ukraine.”
Sunday’s assault on the military fort follows a helicopter attack against the Supreme Court by former investigative police official Oscar Pérez in June. Perez also called on the military to rise up against the Maduro government, echoing similar demands voiced by opposition spokespeople for the past 18 months. Over 120 people have also been killed in violent opposition-led unrest since the beginning of April.
On Sunday, Minister of Defense Padrino Lopez released an official communique on behalf of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) in relation to the incident. Lopez said that although the group had been "immediately repelled" by army personnel, some of the attackers had managed to steal weapons from the fort’s depository and were currently at the centre of a manhunt by state security agencies.
The communiqué also stated that those responsible for the attack will face military charges.
“We will not accept under any circumstances the violation of our sovereignty, and even less that the social gains achieved for the benefit of the great majorities are undermined,” reads the statement.
The document finished by calling on the men and women of Venezuela to work together to find solutions to the current turmoil in the country within a legal framework.