Venezuelan leadership fighting to court armys favour
In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido are competing to gain the army’s support. As many foreign countries (including most of Venezuela’s South American neighbours) distance themselves from Maduro, the national military institution remains loyal to him. Self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido calls for new protests this week to shift the army on his side with the promise of amnesty to soldiers joining the ranks of the opposition.
Yesterday, several opponents to Maduro’s government walked to several barracks, police offices and several other stations of law to persuade the military to join their side, distributing a project of amnesty prepared this week-end to encourage them to drop their support for Nicolas Maduro.
For the moment, the army stands at Maduro’s side, but few are sure for how long this may last. Controlling public companies and thus the country’s main resources, the army is evidently the last pillar maintaining Maduro’s power.
“Nobody respects the weak, cowards, traitors. In this world, what’s respected is the brave, the courageous, power.” Maduro said to his troops.
To maintain pressure on his opponent, Juan Guaido called his supporters to protest twice this week:
“We will organise two protests. One Wednesday, another one Saturday. People are asking ‘why not every day of the week?’, because under the current turmoil, we already struggle to fight daily. We fight to eat, we fight to survive.”
But the risk is the possibility of the protests turning into riots. Last week only, 35 people died during clashes against the police.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch NGO shared his concerns over the fragile situation: “Our major concern is that the government might provoke a bloodbath in order to stay in power, which it has done in the past.”
For Juan Guaido and his partisans, this week must be decisive, as the European Union has sent an ultimatum to Nicolas Maduro in the meantime. If he doesn’t organize free and transparent elections by Sunday, they’ll consider Guaido the only legitimate president in Venezuela.