Venezuela’s top military brass pledged their unwavering support for embattled President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday, delivering vows of loyalty before rows of green-uniformed officers on state television.
A half-dozen generals belonging largely to district commands and with direct control over thousands of troops joined Maduro in accusing the United States of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs and said they would uphold the socialist leader’s rule.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, a key Maduro ally, later delivered his own proclamation, dismissing efforts to install a “de-facto parallel government” as tantamount to a coup.
“It’s not a war between Venezuelans that will solve our problems,” he said. “It’s dialogue.”
Venezuelans are heading into uncharted political waters after the young leader of a newly united opposition claimed Wednesday to hold the presidency and Maduro dug in for a fight with the Trump administration.
All eyes have been on the military, a traditional arbiter of political disputes in Venezuela, as a critical indicator of whether the opposition will succeed in establishing a new government.
Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, turned up the heat by declaring himself interim president on Wednesday before a mass of demonstrators in Caracas.
He said it was the only way to end the Maduro “dictatorship” in Venezuela, which has seen millions flee in recent years to escape sky-high inflation and food shortages.