VENEZUELA is “ready to die” in the battle for control of their South American nation, according to the country’s defence minister who demanded soldiers fight for independence and stand up to US imperialism.
By CARLY READ
Tue, Jan 29, 2019
Vladimir Padrino addressed Venezuelan military during a show of strength at a Caracas army base. In a passionate speech with a rifle slung over his shoulder, he denounced the movement to depose President Nicolás Maduro. Despite multiple nations – including the US – officially recognising Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, Mr Padrino supports Nicolás Maduro, who replaced revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez in 2013. Mr Guaidó said he will take power if there is no president, and is leader of the nation’s parliament. Mr Padrino said: “It is time for revolutionary, Bolivarian, patriotic activism.
“This is the activism that today empowers us in this new phase of defending our homeland. We are not going to hand it over! We are ready to die for it!
“We would be unworthy of wearing this uniform and these patriotic symbols, if we did not face in this difficult moment of certain threat against the fatherland.”
He added: “In the face of any aggression, of any nature and intensity, we will defend Venezuela, as it belongs to us.”
Led by US President Donald Trump, the UK, Canada and most of Venezuela’s surrounding nations, argue Mr Guaidó should lead the country, with the man himself offering amnesty for any troops who defect to his parallel administration.
Though Mr Maduro won a presidential election in 2018, international critics declared the result illegitimate following claims of voter fraud, opposition repression and other irregularities.
The nation’s armed forces have so far remained loyal to Mr Maduro, who has used military to prop up his embattled regime.
The power struggle comes after news Steve Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, and National Security Adviser John Bolton announced new Trump-approved sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm.
Mr Mnuchin and Mr Bolton gave a joint statement that accused the PDVSA of corruption, embezzlement and looting the nation’s assets.
The sanctions are an attempt by President Trump to deprive Mr Maduro’s government of cash and undermine military support. This prompted Mr Maduro to condemn the US for leading an “economic war”.