Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello presented evidence relating to the coup plot thwarted earlier in the month in a television broadcast Wednesday night.
Accompanied by Mayor of the Caracas municipality of Libertador Jorge Rodriguez, Cabello released recordings of testimony of one of the detained military officers, who acknowledged the coup plot and confirmed that he was offered visas by the embassies of the United States and the U.K.
In addition to the detailed confessions of the military official – who was recruited to fly a plane that was to undertake the bombing of key military and media targets in Caracas – the two government officials also played intercepted telephone conversations with leaders of the opposition COPEI party speaking about plans and debating participation in the plot.
In the first military official’s alleged confession, he claims that the plans for the coup had been in motion since “last year.” In terms of the planned date for the coup, he said there wasn’t one particularly, but that they were looking at Carnaval – a time when Venezuelans traditionally go to the beach and go on vacation. He also mentions a video that was aimed at “waking up” military officers.
The second soldier refers to sending the video to Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo, as well as to a foreign channel, “I don’t know which.”
COPEI's President Antonio Ecarri and party Secretary Rogelio Diaz can also allegedly be heard discussing a transition plan that would have paved the way for a new government after the violent overthrow of Venezuela's democratically elected president, Nicolas Maduro.
A second audio clip allegedly shows COPEI's regional leader for Lara state Jose Cassany and another top party official Antonio Sotillo had knowledge of a plot slated for Feb. 12 before it was dismantled by authorities earlier this month. The audio recording included comments that appeared to imply the plotters were relying on U.S. support.
During the audio clips, the plotters appeared to agree on a plan that would have involved inciting violence in the streets of Venezuela, culminating in a series of coordinated attacks on government offices and other strategic sites around Caracas on Feb. 12, leading to the collapse of the government. The government has previously alleged the plotters intended to use a tucano aircraft to bomb the following sites in the capital:
- teleSUR headquarters (east Caracas)
- Headquarters of the Military Intelligence (DIM)
- Plaza Venezuela
- Metro station Zona Rental (center of Caracas)
- Ministry of Defense (center of Caracas)
- Caracas municipality building (west)
- Miraflores palace (national government and presidential headquarters)
- Public Prosecutor’s office (center of Caracas)
Venezuelan authorities allege the plot was masterminded by opposition Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma. He was charged with sedition and conspiracy earlier this month.
The long-time opposition leader co-authored a “transition plan” with high-profile opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado one day before the failed coup plans were to take effect.
Since then, Venezuela's government has vowed to track down everyone involved in the coup, with Maduro warning many of the opposition's most prominent leaders were aware of the plot well in advance.
Venezuela has also condemn foreign governments it says backed the coup, including the United States, in the United Nations coup, including the United States.
Part of the audio can be heard below (in Spanish).
Read more about the coup here.