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Venezuela: Is a Class War Within the Military Underway?

August 9, 2017
Plain English Version

Occupants of a car stopped by soldiers Sunday knelt on the ground. The car had been circulating on a military base in Valencia. Credit Juan Carlos Hernandez/Associated Press

Things are getting worse in Venezuela. The Maduro government is trying to take full control. People who disagree are going to prison. Food and medicine shortages are growing. Crime, inflation, and unemployment are rising. How does this dictator stay in power?

The answer is control of the military. Maduro, and President Chávez before him, bribe the military. They do this by making loyalty the test for getting ahead. They gave the generals control of the nation’s economy. Oil and food production go through them.

The generals are getting rich. What about the rest of the soldiers? An answer may be coming. A group of men led by a former soldier attacked a military base last Sunday. They made off with assault rifles and grenade launchers. They declared a “legitimate rebellion” against “the murderous tyranny” of the president.

A retired general said, “They would have needed someone inside the unit with the key. There are so many problems in the armed forces. So many problems with morale.”

Is Venezuela on the brink of a violent civil war? A retired general said of the rebellious group, “They speak of resistance. Now they think the model is to use arms.”

Maduro knows only the military can save him. The generals have lives of privilege. Things are different for the rest of the officers. Their families and friends are hungry. A retired general said the soldiers are beginning to ask themselves questions. They ask if things are getting better or worse. He went on, “Everyone has the same voice that talks to them each day. That voice is their conscience.”

An expert said few senior officers are taking part in the rebellion. The unrest may be more like guerrilla warfare than a coup. Whichever way, a battle for Venezuela is on.

Source: The New York Times August 8, 2017

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