Venezuela launches manhunt for leaders of attack on army base

Article originally appeared in ReutersCARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela launched a country-wide manhunt on Monday for the men who assaulted an army base the day before, using state TV to flash pictures of the accused rebels who escaped with weapons after a gunfight with soldiers.

The attack came just hours after the first session of a new legislative superbody created by President Nicolas Maduro, which opponents say will cement dictatorship after months of deadly protests in the oil-rich but economically-ailing country.

Those who attacked the base near the city of Valencia said their operation was aimed at starting an insurgency against unpopular leftist Maduro. No more assaults were reported, and anti-Maduro protests in Valencia were quickly subdued, but hackers attacked dozens of state websites to show their support for the raid. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.