Venezuela Army Declares Loyalty to Maduro

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 17.Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 17.

Venezuela’s defense minister on Monday declared the army’s loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro who ordered troops into the streets ahead of a major protest by opponents trying to oust him.

Caracas is bracing for what Maduro’s opponents vow will be the “mother of all protests” on Wednesday, after two weeks of violent demos against moves by the leftist leader and his allies to tighten their grip on power.

The center-right opposition has called on the military—a pillar of Maduro’s power—to turn against the president amid an economic and political crisis that has triggered severe food shortages, riots and looting.

But Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the army “confirms its unconditional loyalty to the president”.

He made the comment before thousands of pro-Maduro militia members at a rally outside the presidential palace where the president thanked the army and the civilian militia for their support.

“Loyalty is repaid with loyalty,” the president said.

“From the first reveille (on Monday morning), from the first rooster crow, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces will be in the streets ... saying, ‘Long live the Bolivarian revolution’,” he said on Sunday night in a televised address.

He denounced his opponents as “traitors” and praised the military’s “unity and revolutionary commitment”.

Despite his announcement, there was no sign of soldiers on patrol on Monday morning in Caracas, though state TV showed images of army units marching in formation in the streets of the capital as the defense minister watched.

Venezuela has been rocked by unrest since March 30 when Maduro’s camp moved to consolidate its control with a Supreme Court decision quashing the power of the opposition-majority legislature.


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