Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro revealed a recording Wednesday during his annual address to the nation that allegedly exposes a plot by members of the right-wing opposition to sow chaos near supermarkets.
Venezuelans have faced product shortages and long lines at stores in large part due to deliberate hoarding by companies; the opposition has deliberately worked to take advantage of these shortages in order to cause disruptions.
In the recording, Ivan Carrratu Molina, a security official under former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, and Jose de Jesus Gamez Bustamente, a retired Venezuelan general, discuss plans to generate violence and disorder in Venezuela. with their goal being the overthrow of the democratically-elected national government.
In the audio recording Gamez details their plot. The opposition would bring supporters to the lines outside supermarkets and have them break windows in order to provoke looting by those waiting to enter. According to Gamez, this would result in repression by the Venezuelan National Guard against working-class people, the political base of the Bolivarian revolution.
Gamez alludes to the violent street protests organized by the opposition in early 2014 and suggests that the same strategy would not work. Instead he suggests that the street conflicts should happen outside of supermarkets and not on main streets. During the three months of opposition violence early last year, the national guard remained almost entirely peaceful, despite the deaths, violence, lack of access to schools and hospitals, and burning of hundreds of items of public property, including buses and institutions. These violent protests, known in Venezuela as guarimbas, were widely unpopular among Venezuelans, even among supporters of the opposition. Their actions resulted in the death of 43 people, the overwhelming majority at the hands of right-wing protesters.
Gamez also openly talked about promoting the opposition as a peaceful movement to the world, while actually hiding a violent agenda.
In a second recording, Gamez boasts about attending the School of the Americas, the military school run by the U.S. armed forces that has been widely condemned by activists for training military officers from the Americas in counterinsurgency and torture techniques. Gamez himself refers to the institution as a “school of assassins” and boasts about being an expert in “psychological operations.” He reiterates that the goal of the opposition is the ouster of the government.
The president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, denounced a plot last week where he alleged that members of the right-wing opposition Popular Will party intend to hire mercenaries to stir up conflict outside supermarkets in the country.
Audio of the recording can be heard below (in Spanish):