Maduro announces 'criminal prosecutions for rebellion'

Maduro announces 'criminal prosecutions for rebellion'

CARACAS- Agence France-Presse
Maduro announces criminal prosecutions for rebellion

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed to have defeated what he called a military coup attempt by the opposition leader Juan Guaidó and warned on April 30 that those responsible for a military uprising against him would face "criminal prosecutions."       

"This will not go unpunished," Maduro said in an address broadcast on television and the radio.

"I have spoken to the attorney general. I have chosen three prosecutors who will interrogate all people involved and they will launch criminal prosecutions for the serious crimes that have been committed against the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace."

In the meantime, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a television interview on May 1 that the United States was prepared to take military action to stem the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela.

"Military action is possible. If that's what's required, that's what the United States will do," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox Business Network, but added that the United States would prefer a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela.  

Demonstrators clashed with police on the streets of the Venezuelan capital on April 30, spurred by opposition leader Juan Guaido's call on the military to rise up against Maduro- who also said he had defeated an attempted coup.

An apparently carefully planned attempt by Guaido to demonstrate growing military support disintegrated into rioting as palls of black smoke rose over eastern Caracas.

Maduro declared victory over the uprising- congratulating the armed forces for having "defeated this small group that intended to spread violence through putschist skirmishes."            

Guaido rallied his supporters with an early morning video message that showed him for the first time with armed troops he said had heeded months of urging to join his campaign to oust Maduro.

The 35-year-old National Assembly leader was filmed outside the La Carlota air base, where he asked the armed forces inside to join him.       

Soldiers backing Guaido wore blue armbands to demonstrate their allegiance to the opposition leader- recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries- but there appeared to be few of them.

But Maduro had called on his forces to show "nerves of steel" and troops in riot gear, backed by armored vehicles and water tankers, lined up against the demonstrators.      

A plume of black smoke rose from an area near a helicopter hangar on the base, where demonstrators who briefly managed to enter were pushed back.

Moscow, Maduro's main backer and creditor alongside China, accused Guaido of "fueling conflict" in the oil-rich country.

In the meantime, Erik Prince - the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump - has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Maduro, four sources with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.