Venezuela Military Officers Jailed Over Alleged Coup Plot

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, CC BY 3.0 br
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, CC BY 3.0 br

Top Story — Eight Venezuelan military officers have been imprisoned after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the government, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López announced Wednesday.

The group of mostly air force officers were convicted of, among other charges, plotting to hijack a military jet in order to bomb the presidential palace and kill President Nicolás Maduro. They will serve sentences of between five and eight years, the Associated Press reported. The plot was allegedly codenamed “Operation Jericho.”

Accusations against the officers first surfaced in February, along with claims that they were working alongside the U.S. government. U.S. officials denied the claims, according to the AP. Later that month, Antonio Ledezma, the opposition mayor of Caracas was arrested for allegedly plotting against the government.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexican authorities are blaming drug cartels for a series of murders in the Mexican town of Sonoyta, located along Arizona’s border, where at least 11 people have been killed since Friday as cartels try to gain control of a strategic corridor into the United States.
  • A Texas grand jury initiated proceedings Wednesday to determine the guilt of a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Mexican national in February, another case this year that highlights potential racist bias in the U.S. police force.
  • Latino voters will likely decide the outcome of California’s U.S. Senate election in November, according to Fox News Latino, as they represent the fastest-growing electorate in the state.

Caribbean

  • Cuba will send a 48-person medical team, including 22 doctors and a field hospital, to Nepal in response to the devastating April earthquake that has claimed over 7,000 lives.
  • JetBlue announced it will offer flights to Havana starting July, the latest announcement that has come out of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s trade mission to Cuba, making it the first major U.S. airline to fly to the island.

Central America

  • Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela have the world’s highest death rates, according to a new map by the Homicide Monitor, though the map also reveals violence has decreased in other major cities in Latin America.
  • Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela estimated that the corruption scandal involving his predecessor– President Ricardo Martinelli who is currently under investigation by the Supreme Court– may have lost their country almost $100 million, in an interview with newspaper La Prensa.

Andes

  • Analysts predict that, following the World Health Organization’s report that glyphosate — a chemical used in a U.S.-backed Colombian program to eradicate coca production — is “probably carcinogenic,” the Colombian government will make a decision over whether to eradicate the program or not during a National Narcotics Council meeting May 14.
  • Colombia has agreed to extradite to Venezuela a man wanted over the October murder of Robert Serra, a 27-year-old Caracas politician, and his partner, María Herrera.

Southern Cone

  • In an extraordinary session convened Wednesday in Buenos Aires, two medical teams are debating whether late Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered or committed suicide on Jan. 18, in a case that has roiled the South American country.
  • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s disapproval numbers have hit a record high of 64 percent, according to a Gfk Adimark poll published Wednesday.
  • The Jardim São Luiz district in the southern edge of the Brazilian city of São Paulo is one of several “homicide ‘hot spots’” in a metropolis that has otherwise experienced a decrease in murder rates in the last 15 years, reports Luis Adorno and Jonathan Watts for The Guardian.

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