Venezuela’s government on Monday said it put down a brief military uprising after a group of soldiers raided a weapons cache, holed up in the capital and called on the country to take to the streets to defend the constitution.
In a statement, the government said that all the weapons had been recovered and that the rebels had been detained and were being questioned by military intelligence.
The apparent uprising began at about 2:50 a.m. when “a small group” of members from the Bolivarian National Guard overpowered their commander, stole two vehicles and raided the armory of a security post in the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, the government said.
Taking four military members hostages, the group then took over a security post in the Cotiza section of Caracas and used social networks to call for a general uprising.
In one of the videos, about a dozen armed and uniformed men are seen as the speaker says: “Here we are, the National Guard. This is what you wanted. We’re here, unified, to restore constitutional order.”
Local news showed neighbors of the area building barricades, starting fires and chanting on the street.
The apparent uprising comes as Venezuela is on edge. The opposition is calling for a nationwide protest Wednesday demanding new elections and an end to the Nicolás Maduro administration. The date, Jan. 23, is significant: It’s the anniversary of the 1958 military uprising that toppled dictator Gen. Marcos Pérez Jiménez.
In Monday’s statement about the uprising, the government said the armed forces “categorically reject this kind of action, which with all certainty, was motivated by the dark interests of the extreme right [wing].”
Juan Guaidó, the president of the opposition controlled National Assembly, said the military “knows the chain of command has been broken” because Maduro is an illegitimate president.
The National Assembly “will give all the necessary guarantees to members of the [Armed Forces] who actively contribute to the restitution of the Constitution,” he wrote on Twitter.
The military has been key to Maduro’s hold on power, and the opposition has been calling on the armed forces to break ties with the man they see as a dictator. And there are signs of growing discontent in the ranks.
The government has acknowledged a handful of military uprisings in recent years and jailed at least 160 military officials, according to human rights groups.