[News] Venezuela - New Evidence Links Ledezma, COPEI to Thwarted Coup

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 27 12:40:44 EST 2015

  New Evidence Links Ledezma, COPEI to Thwarted Coup


By Lucas Koerner

Caracas, February 26, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Speaking on his 
television program "Con el Mazo Dando", National Assembly President 
Diosdado Cabello released new evidence on Wednesday regarding the 
thwarted "Blue Coup" attempt against the government of Nicolas Maduro on 
February 12.

Coming in the wake of the arrest of Antonio Ledezma last Thursday on 
charges of sedition and conspiracy, these revelations could lend further 
support to allegations concerning both the Caracas Metropolitan Mayor's 
role in the coup as well as the advance knowledge and involvement of the 
opposition party COPEI.

A stash of weapons, including explosives, was also discovered at the 
political party's Caracas headquarters on Tuesday.

*Ledezma Linked to Coup Plotters Via U.S. Phone Number*

According to Cabello, Ledezma allegedly made three phone calls in 
December to a New York-based number belonging jointly to General Eduardo 
Báez Torrealba (alias "Máximo") and Carlos Manuel Osuna Saraco (alias 
"Guillermo"), the latter of whom is believed to be the "financier" of 
the coup plot.

In a two week period spanning from the 25th of December to the 10th of 
January, Lieutenant Henry Salazar Moncada, who has been arrested and 
formally charged for his role in the coup attempt, also made three 
separate phone calls to the same U.S. number.

"The evidence is notorious. The proof is extremely clear [...] It's a 
coup, and as President Nicolas Maduro said, there are very few 
opposition leaders who didn't know anything [about the coup]," announced 
the President of the National Assembly.

Antonio Ledezma was one of three signatories of a public statement by 
leaders of the Venezuelan opposition calling for the ouster of President 
Nicolas Maduro as part of a "national transition", which was released 
just 24 hours prior to the coup attempt.

The other signatories were multi-millionaire former legislator Maria 
Corina Machado, whose various NGOs have received millions in funding 
from the U.S. government, and Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo Lopez, 
who currently awaits trial for his role in leading violent opposition 
protests last year that took the lives of 43 people.

Ledezma has also been linked to extreme right-wing opposition figures 
such as Lorent Gómez Saleh, who was extradited from Colombia and charged 
with allegedly conspiring with paramilitaries to launch terrorist 
attacks as part of a campaign of so-called "resistance" against the 
Venezuelan government.

COPEI Leaders Discuss Links to Military Officials "Preparing How to Do 
the Transition"

On his program on Wednesday night, Cabello also presented a recording of 
an alleged phone call between the first COPEI vice-president for Lara 
State, Jose Cassany, and another top party official by the name of 
Antonio Sotillo in which the two christian democrats appear to discuss 
preparations for a coup.

In a conversation recorded on January 3 of this year, Cassany informs 
Sotillo that he is friends with a businessman who has a relationship 
"with the civil and military worlds, active military [officials], 
including generals."

He added that these military officials were "preparing how to carry out 
the transition".

In another alleged phone recording highlighted by the President of the 
National Assembly, the Caracas president of COPEI Antonio Ecarri and the 
secretary general Rogelio Diaz consider the option of a coup against 
President Nicolas Maduro.

In a recording dated February 21, Ecarri asks Diaz if he received the 
message from national secretary general Herberto Diaz and goes on to state,

"One cannot have a double position in life, if you are going to abandon 
the electoral field, you are going to call openly for a coup and 
everything else, that's fine, that is a path [...] I say we must look 
for a different mechanism."

Diaz agrees with Ecarri's affirmation that while a coup represents a 
legitimate "path", a "different mechanism" is needed, adding that 
otherwise, "we put everything on the table and they put us in jail.

The conversation ends with the two leaders agreeing on the need to 
"promote street activity".

Nonetheless, since February 2014, opposition "street activity" has 
largely taken the form of violent protests, which resulted in the death 
of 43 people last year as well as millions of dollars in damages to 
public property.

On Tuesday, Public Ministry officials discovered a weapons cache at 
COPEI headquarters in Las Palmas, Caracas. Among the weapons found were 
52 homemade explosive devices resembling a type of grenade, 32 molotov 
cocktails, and four gas masks.

Officials also discovered various pamphlets with messages expressing 
support for Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma in the wake of his arrest 
on charges of conspiracy and sedition.

*Air Force Officer's Confession Confirms Coup Plot to Bomb Military and 
Civilian Targets*

In the same program on Wednesday, Diosdado Cabello also unveiled a 
recording of the alleged confession of First Lieutenant Luis Lugo 
Calderón, revealing further details regarding the thwarted coup effort 
earlier this month.

During his interrogation, the Air Force Lieutenant confirmed the 
existence of a video intended to be the "preamble" to the coup, "calling 
on the superior officers to wake up, asking for the renunciation of the 
President of the Republic, and saying that the lower officers were 
against the government."

Lugo further elaborated that the video was to be disseminated outside 
the country by the Miami-based journalist Patricia Poleo around the time 
of Carnival, when vast numbers of Venezuelans travel to the beach and 
other parts of the country.

The officer also substantiated allegations that coup plotters intended 
to use a "Super Tucano" counter-insurgency aircraft to bomb numerous 
ground targets such as the Miraflores Palace, teleSur, and the Ministry 
of Defense.

Identifying himself as the intended pilot of the military aircraft, he 
added that among the targets were air force bases located in highly 
populated cities, including the La Carlota base in the wealthy Caracas 
neighborhood of Chacao as well as the the Sucre base in the city of 
Maracay in Aragua State.

Furthermore, the Lieutenant indicated that he had been approached by an 
official from the British embassy with an offer of asylum in the event 
that the coup failed, though he did not give further details.

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