On Wednesday Tareck El Aissami, the vice president of Venezuela, went on television and announced that opposition figure Gilber Caro had been found carrying a rifle and plastic explosives in his car as part of a plot against the socialist government. El Aissami said of the arrest, “Who knows how many lives would have been lost if we had not stopped this threat.”
Caro is part of the Popular Will party led by Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez was arrested on charges of instigating violence. After a highly questionable trial, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2015. The Popular Will party said the explosives and weapons, supposedly discovered during a traffic stop, were planted as an excuse to imprison Caro.
The sense that this is part of a government roundup of opposition figures was bolstered by the re-arrest of General Raul Isaias Baduel. Baduel, once a compatriot of Hugo Chavez, was on parole after a previous stint in jail which he claims was payback for speaking out against the ruling socialists. Reuters reports a search of his home by an “anti-coup” unit created by socialist President Nicolas Maduro preceded his arrest:
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, who is part of a new “anti-coup” unit set up by Maduro, said authorities were dismantling a new “terrorist” plot by right-wing politicians.
“We wish to announce the detention of General Raul Isaias Baduel,” he said in a speech on state TV.
“Important criminal evidence was uncovered in a search of his home, of presumed conspiratorial activities.”
Meanwhile, President Maduro’s government seems to be making moves to prevent one of the most popular opposition figures, Henrique Capriles, from opposing him in the next election. Capriles is the governor of Miranda state and was the Justice First party’s candidate for President in the past two elections. In 2013 he lost the election to socialist Nicolas Maduro by just 1.5 percent of the vote. Earlier this year the Comptroller’s office announced an investigation of Capriles. In February of 2016 the AFP reported:
Henrique Capriles said Monday that the government was seeking revenge for his efforts to have Maduro terminated as president this year. His term ends in 2019.
“They know they’ve lost popular support, that they don’t have the people on their side. That’s why they have targeted me this way,” the former governor and ex-presidential candidate told reporters…
“Inspect whatever you like,” a defiant Capriles said. “I have nothing to be afraid of.”
This week the Comptroller’s office announced it had reached a decision in its investigation. Capriles warned the government could rule he is unable to hold public office which would take the leading opposition figure out of the running in the next election.