And I mean that like an actual coup attempt, and not one of those made-up overthrow plots coming from unidentified foreign imperialist aggressors and subversive businessmen about which President Nicolas Maduro and Hugo Chavez before have always raved in times of political turmoil. …Or it could just be that again, too. It’s always easier to explain away your problems to the public when phantom conspirators are attacking you.

Venezuela’s President says his country has arrested three air force generals accused of plotting a coup.

“Last night we captured three generals, who we had been investigating…three generals who were trying to turn the air force against the legitimately constituted government,” President Nicolas Maduro said in remarks broadcast Tuesday on state-run VTV. “They were organizing a coup. This captured group has direct ties with sectors of the opposition, and they said that this week was the decisive week.”

The generals, whom he did not name, will be charged in military court, he said.

Maduro revealed the arrests as he spoke to a commission of South American foreign ministers who are visiting his country as part of efforts to facilitate dialogue as political tensions mount.

It’s tough to discern exactly what’s going on within the ranks of the Venezuelan regime, but I would bet that now probably feels like an opportune moment to upset the order of things; there must be a lot of doubt about Maduro’s leadership capability to keep the Bolivarian revolution running strong, what with all of the desperate flailing he’s been doing with the deteriorating crime and inflation rates plaguing the country and the ongoing protests that have already resulted in at least 36 deaths. Chavez himself was briefly ousted in a coup back in 2002 when the military’s top officers turned against him after days of anti-government protests, and the military is the long-established key to power that any potential coup initiator would need to undermine:

The military is a vital institution of support for Mr. Maduro’s government and formed the backbone of the socialist movement started some 15 years ago by Mr. Chávez, who was a former tank commander.

“If Maduro begins to see members of the military that are starting to budge, starting to question the approach by the political folks in the government then you know they would be in trouble,” said Carl Meacham, director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.