With support from the U.S., opposition leaders in Venezuela have sparked what they hope is the beginning of the end of the socialist regime of President Nicolas Maduro.
Reports on the ground say smaller-scale demonstrations that began on Jan. 21 began to spread on Jan. 22 with protests erupting in more than 60 neighborhoods across Caracas and in interior states.
President Donald Trump recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela minutes after the opposition leader declared himself the head of state, in a dramatic move against the leftist regime of Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido, 35, is the president of the Venezuela National Assembly, which Maduro doesn’t recognize.
In Bolivar state, protesters set on fire a statue of Hugo Chavez, who started the long socialist nightmare in Venezuela and then picked Maduro as his successor before dying of cancer in 2013.
“The silence with which the year started will become a roar of freedom, democracy and strength without precedent,” opposition leader Juan Guaido, a 35-year-old industrial engineer who heads the country’s National Assembly, said on Jan. 22.
Though Maduro stripped the National Assembly of its power in 2017, the body is nevertheless widely recognized internationally as the only democratic institution left in the country.
“We are all here in the same boat, without electricity, without water, without medicines, without gas, and with an uncertain future,” Guaido said. “We’re all immersed in this crisis except the usurper.”
A U.S. intelligence official told The Washington Post this month that Maduro’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, has privately told Maduro that he should step aside. And thousands of police and military rank and file have deserted their posts.
“The military leadership is faithful to Maduro and will continue to be until he’s gone,” one active duty high-ranking military officer, who asked not to be identified told Reuters.
However on Jan. 21, dozens of Venezuelan National Guard personnel stole arms from two Caracas units, kidnapped four officials, and recorded themselves in a northern slum urging people to join them in rebellion, the Post reported. The videos circled social media but shortly after, the government announced that 27 dissenting officials had been arrested.
Military installations in Venezuela, like infrastructure throughout the country, are decaying.
More than 4,000 low-ranking officers deserted last year, according to official documents seen by Reuters.
Full article: Venuezuela’s socialist nightmare could be ending; Military no longer ‘faithful’ (World Tribune)