The Venezuelan government loves to talk about “coups.” Business people are engaged in an “economic coup.” Opposition politicians are planning an “electoral coup.” Journalists are continuous agents of an “informational coup.” And so on…
So when the government decried a “coup” by members of the Air Force and other military personnel back in February, few of us took it seriously.
Yesterday we learned that, in a quickie trial, nine members of the Armed Forces were sentenced for “conspiring” and “instigating a rebellion.”
The group is made up of seven active members of the Air Force (including one General), one retired Army coronel, and one retired Captain of the National Guard. Others that had been named by Diosdado Cabello as part of the conspiracy have yet to be sentenced.
According to this note by ElEstimulo.com, the defense attorney for a few of the accused claims that no proper defense was admitted. He says that the bulk of the prosecution’s case was hearsay – an alleged conversation here, an alleged invitation to a meeting there – and that a valid allibi was not accepted by the court. According to Últimas Noticias, a tenth person being accused, Capt. José Moreno, admitted to participating in the conspiracy and was rewarded with a lighter sentence.
The case is farcical right from the start. According to the government, the coupsters were planning on bombing Caracas using Tucano airplanes. But according to several sources, including Aporrea, the Venezuelan Tucanos are useless, so the coupsters were going to borrow one (ONE) airplane from an American defense contractor.
Farce or not, the case promises to go on. One of those implicated in the alleged scheme is Julio Borges, a National Assembly member and leader of Primero Justicia (and a personal friend).
As per usual in today’s Venezuela, it is hard to tell truth from lies. The fact that the trial was over so quickly and without any transparency suggests the government’s case is flimsier than it sounds. The lack of an independent media makes the government’s attempts to give the case some credibility much more difficult.
The case sounds like a sham. Still, that is cold comfort for the families of the convicted.