In a speech to Venezuela’s exile community in South Florida on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump warned Venezuela’s military that standing by Maduro could bring disastrous consequences. “You will lose everything,” he said.
The threat brought a terse response from Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, who went on state television to say that Venezuela’s military was indeed willing to lose everything, even their lives, to defend Venezuela’s oil reserves and gold deposits.
Venezuela’s opposition is pushing the military to let in humanitarian aid in the belief that it could break a month-long standoff over power in the troubled nation.
However, top commanders are showing no signs of breaking their loyalty to Nicolas Maduro and disgruntled rank-and-file troops have yet to act.
Venezuela’s military has served as the traditional arbiter of political disputes in Venezuela and under both the late Hugo Chavez and Maduro has vastly expanded its reach within Venezuela.
The opposition believes that the military’s recognition of Juan Guaido as interim president is vital in order to force Maduro out of power and solidify a transitional government.
Boasting some 200,000 troops and 1.7 million militiamen, Venezuela’s armed forces command not just the nation’s firepower but many key sectors of the economy as well, making their backing critical.
About half a dozen mid-ranking officers have pledged their allegiance to Guaido, but they generally don’t command large numbers of troops or are already in exile.
With control over the nation’s borders, it’s the military that will decide whether or not the humanitarian aid Guaido is vowing to bring into the country ultimately enters or not.
While the opposition is hoping that if the military does let in aid this Saturday, as Guaido has called for, it will mark a clear turn of events, the reality is the conflict is likely to drag on.
In the short-term, the aid sitting at Colombia’s border and in other collection sites (Dutch ABC-Islands and Brazil) puts Maduro in a tough position.
While there have been a handful of small-scale rebellions in recent years, none have succeeded, and those who have tried to stage a coup have wound up behind bars or dead.
Venezuela Today / ABC Flash Point Oil News 2019.