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Army officers urge Venezuela rebellion
Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

BBC A group of military officers has called on Venezuelan citizens and soldiers to rebel against President Hugo Chavez and join a protest in central Caracas.

The 14 officers - some of whom were involved in an abortive coup against the Venezuelan leader in April - demanded Mr Chavez's resignation in an appearance on Venezuelan national television.

They said they no longer recognised his government.

They also accused the Venezuelan Government of being corrupt and denounced its economic policies, saying it had impoverished the lives of many in a country where more than half the population live in poverty.

Following their statement, the officers travelled to a square in central Caracas, where they held a rally with several thousand of their supporters, Reuters news agency reported.

'Nothing happening'

However the country's Vice President, Jose Vicente Rangel, dismissed the officers' actions, saying that Mr Chavez was working at his desk as normal and that the majority of armed officers rejected the officers' stand.

"We've been in contact with every barracks throughout the country, with every command - the air force, the army, navy and national guard - and there is absolutely nothing happening," he said.

"Every commander totally repudiated these coup plotters who decided to go on an adventure."

The officers' actions come a day after opposition figures in Venezuela hailed as a success a 12-hour general strike called in an attempt to force Mr Chavez to resign or call early elections.

BBC correspondent Adam Easton says that the officers' actions appear to mark a shift from such democratic courses of action. MORE

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Homepage | U.S. Crusade | News Sources | Zimbabwe | Venezuela