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Conspiracy Surrounding Caracas Helicopter Incident

Conspiracy Surrounding Caracas Helicopter Incident
June 30
11:28 2017

A police officer commandeers a heavily-armed helicopter, buzzes downtown Caracas, disappears; President Nicolas Maduro takes to the airwaves to denounce a “terrorist attack”; the opposition calls it a staged event by the president to justify a power grab.

Now, the day after, crisis-weary Venezuelans are trying to make sense of it all. Many, like Giofran Blanco, a 24-year-old administrative assistant, seem inclined to agree with the opposition’s version of events.

“This is completely fictitious,” Blanco said from his scooter as he commuted to work. “Supposedly there is a coup last night and the streets are calm today? The government is just trying to stop the pressure on the streets.”
The episode came hours after Maduro, struggling to contain three months of violent street protests, stated that he was prepared to take up arms to defend the socialist movement begun by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

The demonstrations — fueled by anger over shortages of food and medicine and increasing repression by security forces — have intensified as the regime pushes forward with a plan to overhaul the constitution. Key members of the socialist coalition assembled two decades ago by Chavez have begun to peel away from Maduro.

“Defections from within Chavismo may escalate ahead of the July 30 launch of the constitutional convention,” Siobhan Morden, the head of Latin America fixed-income strategy at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York, wrote in an emailed note. “Our base case scenario remains for regime change on this unstable equilibrium. However, it’s difficult to quantify whether it’s within six hours or six months.”

The incident began at about 7 p.m. Tuesday when a police helicopter draped with a banner that read “freedom” circled low over downtown Caracas, where the supreme court, ministries and presidential palace lie. Gunfire and explosions were heard in the area, but there were no injuries, according to a news release from the court

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