General, top Venezuelan officials go public against Maduro

by WorldTribune Staff, February 3, 2019

A top general in Venezuela’s air force said the country’s military is poised for mutiny against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Gen. Francisco Yanez of the air force’s high command said in a Feb. 2 video posted to Twitter that “People of Venezuela, 90 percent of the armed forces of Venezuela are not with the dictator, they are with the people of Venezuela. Given the happenings of the last few hours, already the transition to democracy is imminent.”

Opposition supporters hold a banner reading ‘No More Socialism’ during a rally in Caracas on Feb. 2. / AFP

Yanez’s video emerged on the same day as tens of thousands of anti-Maduro protesters took the streets of Caracas and other cities.

The high command’s web page lists Yanez as the air force’s head of strategic planning.

On its Twitter account, the air force’s high command accused the general of treason. Yanez is the first active Venezuelan general to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido since he proclaimed himself president on Jan. 23.

The Trump administration recognizes Guaido as the legitimate president and has issued sanctions that are likely to further weaken the OPEC nation’s struggling oil industry.

Some European Union member states are expected to officially recognize Guaido in the coming days.

Guaido called on “blocks” of the military to abandon Maduro and “get on the side of the Venezuelan people.”

Guaido said that, in the coming days, the opposition would try to move humanitarian aid into Venezuela by land and sea along three border points, including the Colombian city of Cucuta. He described the move as a “test” for Venezuela’s armed forces, which will have to choose if they allow the much needed aid to pass, or if they instead obey the orders of Maduro’s government.

Guaido also said he has sent letters to Russia and China, both major creditors and allies of Maduro’s government, saying that a change of government would be in the best interests of both countries.

Maduro on Feb. 2 insisted that he was the only president of Venezuela and described anti-government protests as part of a U.S.-led coup attempt.

“I agree that the legislative power of the country be re-legitimized and that we hold free elections with guarantees, and the people choose a new National Assembly,” Maduro said.

The opposition controls the National Assembly, which Maduro stripped of most of its powers last year.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that a mini mutiny had taken place on Feb. 1 at Venezuela’s central bank.

Citing “four people with direct knowledge of the matter,” the report said some central bank employees received “early retirement offers” after disregarding orders from upper management. The mutiny took place as staffers voiced concern about potential repercussions from signing off on financial operations that have been barred by U.S. sanctions.

As previously reported, attempts by Maduro to repatriate $1.2 billion of gold from the Bank of England and plans to ship 20 tons of gold abroad for cash have been stymied in the past several weeks, bringing close international scrutiny to Banco Central de Venezuela’s $8.4 billion in reserves due to fears the Maduro regime may try to pillage them next, prompting a freeze on Venezuelan assets held in western banks.

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