CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the armed forces on Tuesday to respond with “lead” to “the terrorist groups” that attacked a Bolivarian National Guard barracks, stealing weapons in the process.
“Terrorist attack by a unit directed from Miami on a National Guard (site) and the theft of a group of rifles, and the announcement that they’re going on the attack. Wherever they appear, I have ordered the armed forces ‘lead for the terrorist groups!’ Lead for them, comrades!” said Maduro at a meeting with mayors and governors.
The attack by armed men was headed by ex-policeman Oscar Perez, according to Venezuelan authorities.
Perez, who has been in hiding since he dropped several grenades from a police science helicopter onto two government buildings in Caracas, claimed responsibility for the attack in recent days on a video showing men subduing the National Guard troops while he recriminated the soldiers for their support of the Maduro government.
Maduro called for “zero tolerance for the terrorist groups that threaten with weapons the peace of the Republic,” adding “What are those people thinking? That they can attack an armed forces site, steal some rifles and threaten democracy and they’re going to be tolerated?”
The Venezuelan leader went on to say that the attack was one in a string of “attacks on orders of the United States government.”
Two other “attacks” ordered by Washington were, according to Maduro, the attempt on Friday by an NGO to board about 120 Venezuelan children on a flight to Peru to reunite with their parents, who had emigrated, and the power blackout on Monday in Caracas and two neighboring states.
Venezuelan authorities prevented the children from leaving the country by allegedly identifying irregularities in some of their travel documents and the NGO officials traveling with the youngsters were arrested for possible “child trafficking,” a move that was harshly criticized by the opposition and civil society groups.
Maduro said he ordered an investigation into the power blackout, emphasizing that “groups in Miami” were behind the incident, although Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta attributed it to a detached power cable at a power substation.