PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Chaos In Venezuela – President Nicolas Maduro Arrests Three Generals For Alleged Coup Plot; As Forest Fire Blacks Out Downtown Caracas, Paralyzing Transportation And Crippling Businesses!

March 25, 2014 – VENEZUELA – Venezuela has arrested three air force generals suspected of plotting an uprising against the leftist government, President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday.

Members of the National Police look at anti-government activists during a protest against Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, on March 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)

Maduro told a meeting of South American foreign ministers that the three generals, who were not identified, had been in contact with the opposition and “were trying to rise up against the legitimately constituted government.”

“This group that was captured has direct links with sectors of the opposition and they were saying that this week was the decisive week,” Maduro said.

He said the generals had already been summoned before a court martial, adding that the plot was discovered because other officers had come forward to say they were being recruited.

The disclosure comes amid a broadening government crackdown against Maduro’s opponents after weeks of street protests that have left at least 34 dead.

On Monday, National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello announced that a prominent opposition deputy, Maria Corina Machado, had lost her seat and parliamentary immunity, and could be arrested at any moment.

At a news conference in Lima, a defiant Machado said she would return to Caracas on Wednesday, adding she feared she would be arrested on her arrival.

An opposition supporter watches a protest against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas
March 22, 2014. Two Venezuelans died from gunshot wounds during protests against Maduro, witnesses and local
media said on Saturday, pushing the death toll from almost two months of anti-government protests to 33.

An anti-government activist is arrested by the National Guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro in Caracas on March, 14, 2014 (AFP Photo/Leo Ramirez)

She said she was returning “because I am a Venezuelan deputy and I will enter Venezuela as such to continue fighting in the streets without rest until we achieve democracy and freedom.”

Machado angered the government by going before the Organization of American States last week as a guest of Panama to discuss the crisis in Venezuela.

Panama’s representative to the OAS, Arturo Vallarino, said the move to take away Machado’s seat was “proof of the arbitrary acts being committed in Venezuela.”

Last week, two opposition mayors were arrested, and another prominent opposition leader has been in jailed for a month, accused of inciting violence.

Forest Fire Blacks Out Downtown Caracas
Public employees stand outside their office buildings as they wait for power to be restored, in downtown Caracas,
Venezuela, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. A forest fire cut electricity to most of Venezuela’s capital and officials were still
struggling to restore power to some areas Tuesday, 14 hours after the lights went out. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

A forest fire cut electricity to most of Venezuela’s capital and officials were still struggling to restore power to some areas Tuesday, 14 hours after the lights went out.

The blackout paralyzed subway stations, forced workplaces to close and snarled traffic. Downtown, workers killed time in front of their office buildings while they waited for power to return even as officials’ midday deadline to solve the problem passed.

The blackout started late Monday night after a fire destroyed transmission lines, according to Electricity Minister Jesse Chacon. Officials believe the fire was set intentionally, in part because it began at 10 p.m., not in the heat of the afternoon like most wildfires.

The fire was still raging Tuesday in the dry brush of Waraira Repano National Park, which is a half-hour drive north of downtown Caracas.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience, but that is what happens when these fires, apparently started on purpose, affect a public service,” Chacon said.

The socialist country suffered major blackouts in 2012 and 2013. The administration blamed the power outages on sabotage, while opponents said they were the result of government incompetence.  – Yahoo.

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