Thirty-three Venezuelan soldiers were arrested, degraded and expelled from the armed forces for their alleged links to the assassination “conspiracies” against President Nicolas Maduro denounced by the authorities this week, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense. A major general, two colonels, six lieutenant-colonels, nine majors, two captains, six first lieutenants and seven sergeants are identified by name in a press release.

They would be “involved in conspiracies through the planning of criminal and terrorist actions aimed at attacking the legitimately constituted system of government, the authorities and institutions of the State and the Venezuelan people, even considering the assassination of the head of the ‘State,” Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said. “These traitors should never have worn the uniform,” he said in a video posted on his social networks. “These are groups that don’t represent the armed forces at all. »

The army, which controls mining, oil and food distribution companies in particular, is a pillar of President Nicolas Maduro’s power. The opposition and NGOs regularly denounce the corruption networks which have allowed many officials to enrich themselves.

US State Department ‘deeply concerned’

The Venezuelan government regularly denounces plots or attacks against it, frequently accusing the United States, the opposition or Colombian drug traffickers of being at the origin.

On Monday, the prosecution announced the arrest of 32 people, civilians and soldiers, accused of “betrayal of the homeland” as part of “five conspiracies” to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro. “All the detainees (…) confessed and revealed information about plans against the Venezuelan people and democratic society,” Attorney General Tarek William Saab declared to the press. Mr. Saab, a pro-government figure, said that eleven other people, including human rights activists, journalists and soldiers in exile, were the subject of arrest warrants.

Without going into details, President Maduro had already mentioned these plots during his annual address to the nation last week. The US State Department said on Tuesday it was “deeply concerned” by the arrests without due process, which it said went against the spirit of agreements between Mr Maduro’s government and the opposition.