Venezuela Charges Capriles Ally Over Post-Vote Violence

Venezuela’s government charged an ally of presidential runner-up Henrique Capriles Radonski for inciting violence in the wake of April 14 elections in which the public prosecutor said nine people died.

Antonio Rivero, a retired general who served as head of the state-run emergency response unit before joining the opposition in 2010, was charged today with instigation and association to commit crimes, the public prosecutor’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

Violence erupted after the late Hugo Chavez’s handpicked heir, Nicolas Maduro, was declared the winner of an emergency election with 50.6 percent of the vote. Maduro refused Capriles’s request for a full recount of the ballot and accused him of inciting a coup. Capriles has refused to take part in an audit by the electoral council after his request to be able to cross check electoral registry books against votes cast was declined.

In a video distributed by the government last week, Rivero, who quit his government post after criticizing Cuban involvement in the armed forces, is shown offering advice at what appears to be a confrontation between students and police in Caracas. In the video, which was edited by the government, it’s unclear whether Rivero is instructing the students to use or discard bottles and stones. At the end of the minute-long clip, he appears to instruct the students to do “everything under the direction of Capriles.”

Leopoldo Lopez, leader of Rivero’s Voluntad Popular party, said April 27 that Rivero was encouraging students to protest peacefully.

Rivero’s arrest follows the April 24 detention of U.S. citizen Timothy Tracy after the government accused him of spying and funding violence by students. Tracy, who according to his lawyer was making a documentary film about political divisions in Venezuela, was charged with conspiracy, use of false documents and criminal association.

A Caracas court ordered Rivero held at the headquarters of the national intelligence service in the Venezuelan capital, the public prosecutor’s office said.

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