Venezuela crisis: Military could turn on Nicolás Maduro
The Venezuelan military has been increasingly sapped of capacity and political allegiance as the country’s political and economic crises drags on with no end in sight. Recently, a number of officers outside of the country have echoed international opinion in declaring President Maduro’s rule illegitimate, and several analysts argue that the country’s forces “do not have the capacity or the desire to go against the population in a massive protest,” protests similar to ones that occurred in 2002, 2014, and 2017. After harsh repression of protests by the Maduro regime in 2017, the country’s National Assembly, host to President Maduro’s political opposition, have called for a mass protest on January 23. A group of army officers abroad have issued a video urging citizens to protest peacefully and emphasizing that the army is required “to guarantee the security of all Venezuelans.” Many high-ranking officers, however, have worked to counter these statements, with the country’s Defense Minister announcing that he is ready and willing to give his life to defend the current regime. It is now unknown what kind of support these status-quo-defending general will have among the soldiery, whose forces declined by over 11,000 in 2018, including 5,000 National Guard members. While analysts suggest a full coup d’etat similar to previous eras is unlikely, the army’s participation in future mass protests will comprise an important element of any political transition in the country.