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  HOME | Venezuela (Click here for more Venezuela news)

On Eve of Huge Protest, Venezuela's Maduro Takes Extra Security Measures

By Carlos Camacho

CARACAS -- Embattled Venezuelan President said Tuesday night he was implementing a domestic security plan the day before a demonstration against his rule the opposition has dubbed "the mother of all marches."

The plan includes placing state police departments under the control of the National Guard.

On Monday, Maduro promised to hand out half a million rifles to the milita -- a pro-government armed corps that is not provided for in the Venezuelan Constitution -- so that they could defend the Bolivarian Revolution.

The PSUV ruling party also said it would field 60,000 armed biker gangs known as "colectivos" to keep order in Wednesday's opposition march.

Maduro said the new plan, dubbed "Plan Zamora" after 19th Century Venezuelan warlord Ezequiel Zamora, was presented by him by the Armed Forces high command and he decided to implement it on the eve of the April 19th march because there was "a coup d' etat" afoot, one, he said, "being directed from Washington".

To the government supporters that will attend a hastily-put together counterdemonstration tomorrow, Maduro had an ambiguous message: "Go to the battle, in peace".

The full name of the plan, according to the President during a televised speech (his second of the day) is: "Plan Estratégico Especial Cívico-Militar, para garantizar el funcionamiento de nuestro país, su seguridad, orden interno e integración social Gran Zamora." Or just "Plan Zamora", for short.

Maduro also claimed that armed operatives had been arrested in Caracas hotels, but, as always, was short on details.

Venezuela has been convulsing amidst almost-daily demonstrations, which have resulted in six protesters dead, more than 500 demonstrators arrested, businesses looted and scores of people injured. The most recent spate of anti-government protests began April 4th, days after the Attorney General said the constitutional order in Venezuela had been breached when the Supreme Court tried to usurp the functions of the opposition-held National Assembly.

The Caracas subway system announced it was closing 28 of its busiest stations, out of a total of 64, particularly those along the path of the opposition's march. The Metro de Caracas, Maduro's former employer before he went into politics, said it was shutting down the busiest half of the system in order to preserve installations, but it does so every time there is a big opposition demonstration.

TRUMP'S TURN

Maduro levied against President Donald Trump the same charges that he made against Barack Obama: that he was bent on unseating him, using the local opposition to do his bidding. Criticizing Trump is certainly a sea change in Maduro's foreign policy: during the U.S. campaign Maduro said that Trump should be given the benefit of the doubt, saying "there is no way Trump could be worse than Obama."

When Trump won, Maduro said on live television: "I don't want any problem with Senor Trump."


 

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