Friday, May 19, 2017

In secret recording, Venezuelan general pushes for snipers to control demostrators

In secret recording, Venezuelan general pushes for snipers to control demonstrators
Miami Herald
May 18th, 2017
BY ANTONIO MARIA DELGADO AND SONIA OSORIO
adelgado@elnuevoherald.com

Claiming to be primed for civil war, a Venezuelan general issued orders to prepare for the future use of snipers against anti-government protesters, according to a secret recording of a regional command meeting held three weeks ago at a military base in the northwestern Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto.

On the recording, obtained from a Washington source that has provided el Nuevo Herald with information on Venezuela for previous stories, the generals discuss the legality and risks of using snipers during the massive demonstrations taking place almost daily against President Nicolás Maduro.

The military, however, insists publicly that it is not using lethal force against demonstrators, a claim that was repeated on Wednesday by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.

The meeting, chaired by Division General José Rafael Torrealba Pérez, took place in the last week of April as Venezuela’s socialist government continued to try to contain the unrest. Local news reports said at least four demonstrators were killed by gunfire this week, raising the death toll to at least 42, with more than 700 wounded.

“Begin to make preparations with those individuals that can serve as snipers, beginning with psychological and aptitude tests” to make sure the unit commanders are in control of them, Torrealba instructed the military gathering. Torrealba is head of the Lara-state based Integral Defense Operational Zone (ZODI), one of several regional military operational zones.

The generals at the meeting included representatives of the army, air force and national guard, according to the Washington source.

“There will come a time when we will have to employ them [the snipers] and I want us to be ready for the moment that we have to employ them because the president will not remain at a green [preparation] phase, gentlemen,” Torrealba said, a likely reference to Maduro’s activation of the Zamora Plan, a war plan to be activated in the midst of imminent foreign invasion. “He [Maduro] has already signed a range of operations and as I said here [previously] … we could be at the beginning of a subversive urban war.”

The recording of Torrealba’s voice matches the one appearing in videos of his public speeches available on YouTube. His voice also was identified by the Washington source that supplied the tape to el Nuevo Herald.

Some of the others present were National Guard Brigadier General Hernán Enrique Homez Machado, Air Force Brigadier General Carlos Enrique Quijada Rojas, Army Brigadier General Dilio Rafael Rodríguez Díaz, Army Brigadier General Joel Vicente Canelón and Army Brigadier General Iván Darío Lara Lander, according to the source that provided the recordings to el Nuevo Herald. El Nuevo Herald could not independently verify their presence at the meeting.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article151329772.html#storylink=cpy

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