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article imageOpponents arrested in Venezuela government crackdown

By AFP     Jan 12, 2017 in Politics

Venezuelan authorities have detained several opponents of President Nicolas Maduro this week as he hits back at renewed bids to drive him from office due to a desperate economic crisis.

The arrests came after Maduro launched an "anti-coup commando squad" in response to opposition lawmakers legislative maneuvers against him.

In the latest case, the son of Raul Baduel, a retired general turned critic of Maduro, said authorities had revoked the parole of his father who served six years in jail for corruption.

Raul Baduel served as defense minister of Maduro's late predecessor Hugo Chavez, but later turned against him.

The center right-dominated opposition says Baduel is a political prisoner.

"They revoked my dad's conditional release, even though he has completed it," his son Adolfo Baduel said on Twitter.

On Wednesday, authorities said they arrested opposition lawmaker Gilber Caro who was caught with a rifle and explosives.

That arrest was announced on Wednesday by Maduro's new hardline vice-president, Tareck El Aissami, a self-declared "radical Chavist."

Announcing El Aissami's appointment last week, Maduro said he had ordered him to crack down on "right-wing terrorists" -- his name for political opponents who he says are mounting a "coup" against him.

Announcing Caro's arrest on television, El Aissami also accused the lawmaker of plotting an armed coup.

Opposition congressional speaker Julio Borges branded the arrest "unacceptable."

One of the parties in the coalition, Justice First, said on Wednesday that the intelligence service had also detained one of its members, councilor Jorge Luis Gonzalez.

The opposition MUD coalition says there are about 100 political prisoners being held in Venezuela.

It blames Maduro for an economic crisis that has prompted deadly riots and looting due to shortages of food and medicine. It wants a popular vote on removing him from office.

Maduro says the crisis is the result of a US-backed capitalist conspiracy.

On Tuesday, the government said authorities detained Juancarlo Depablos, head of the state petrochemical company Pequiven, to face accusations of mismanagement over supply failings.

Opposition majority lawmakers on Monday passed a motion declaring that Maduro had effectively "abandoned his post" by failing to tackle the economic crisis.

Maduro branded that a coup and vowed that his opponents "will have to live with the consequences."

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