Chavez: Officers arrested in alleged plot
President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that two National Guard captains have been arrested for allegedly conspiring against his government with aid from Venezuela's opposition and former military officers living in the United States, AP reported.
Chavez said the captains tracked his movements and maintained contact with former Venezuelan officers living in the U.S. who have been accused of playing roles in two Caracas bombings.
Chavez told state television that the captains were detained on Wednesday. They are being held at the Military Intelligence Directorate.
He did not identify the officers, but said they were conspiring with "political movements, contacting the United States, preparing destabilization plans against the president."
Neither did Chavez name the former officers living in the U.S., but his reference to the bombings suggests he was referring to former army Lts. Jose Antonio Colina and German Rodolfo Varela.
Colina and Varela have denied accusations by Venezuelan authorities that they were involved in the Feb. 25, 2003, bombings at the Spanish Embassy and Colombian Consulate that injured four people.
The former soldiers belonged to a group of rebellious officers who occupied a Caracas plaza in October 2002 - six months after Chavez survived a short-lived coup - and futilely called for another uprising against his government.
They were detained by U.S. immigration officials in 2003 after they requested asylum in Miami. Neither was granted that request and both were freed by U.S. authorities in April 2006.
Venezuela asked in January 2004 that the men be extradited for alleged crimes "against persons, against public order and against public and private interests," according to an arrest warrant issued in Caracas.
But they were not sent home because U.S. prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed there was evidence they would be tortured, according to court documents and their attorneys.
Since the botched 2002 coup, Chavez has repeatedly accused his adversaries of plotting to topple his government or assassinate him. Opposition politicians deny the allegations and insist that Chavez should be unseated by voters rather than a rebellious military movement.