On Tuesday night, the head of Venezuela’s dreaded secret police made the announcement that they were turning their back on President Nicolas Maduro. Their announcement was released in the form of an open letter, which was made public soon after.
However, President Maduro took to the airwaves to explain that he had defeated the attempted uprising from the leader of the secret police, Juan Guaidó. While he was rambling on, Maduro explained that his regime had responded to the attempted uprising with “nerves of steel, maximum serenity and effective action.”
He also claimed that the leaders of the secret police were under arrest and are currently being questioned. Maduro said: “This cannot go unpunished.” He later added that “all of those involved must surrender.”
Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera is the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN.) He is also the highest-ranking member within Venezuela’s security forces to break ties with Maduro since Guaidó called for an uprising within the military on Tuesday morning.
In the letter, which was confirmed to be authentic by a U.S. official, Figuera wrote that even though he has always been loyal to Maduro, “the time has come to seek new ways of doing politics” to try and “rebuild the country.” Guaidó was not mentioned by name in the letter, but it did say that the country of Venezuela has experienced a damaging decline.
Earlier on Tuesday, the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, explained that the Trump administration was waiting for three different key officials – the chief judge of the supreme court the commander of Maduro’s presidential guard, and Maduro’s defense minister – to act on what he referred to as private pledges to remove Maduro from office.
Bolton said: “All agreed that Maduro had to go. They need to be able to act this afternoon, or this evening, to help bring other military forces to the side of the interim president. If this effort fails, [Venezuela] will sink into a dictatorship from which there are very few possible alternatives.”
Vladimir Padrino López, the defense minister, condemned Guaidó’s move publicly on Tuesday, saying it was a “terrorist” act and “coup attempt” that was surely going to fail. “Those who try to take Miraflores with violence will be met with violence,” said López on national television in reference to hundreds of government supporters that had gathered in front of the presidential palace.
Guaidó has also said that he was planning on releasing a list of the top commanders that were supporting the uprising within the next few hours. “The armed forces have taken the right decision. With the support of the Venezuelan people and the backing of our constitution they are on the right side of history,” said Guaidó.
Anti-government activists came together in several different cities, even though there weren’t any reports that supporters of Guaidó had actually taken control of any kind of military property. The SIBE was responsible for holding Leopoldo Lopez, Venezuela’s most prominent anti-Maduro activist, in custody since his arrest in 2014. Lopez and Guaidó stood side by side, explaining that he had been released from house arrest on Guaidó’s orders.