Having failed to dislodge President Nicols Maduro, the opponent is openly talking of a takeover but mutual benefit links the military forces with the ruling party

Now that anti-government protests in Venezuela ought to have crushed and President Nicolas Maduro has consolidated his power through questionable electoral maneuvers and a crackdown on democratic freedoms, some opposition leaders and international pundits have raised the possibility of a coup d’etat as the only realistic route to bring about government change.

Julio Borges, head of the opposition-controlled congress, has called on the military forces to” break its silence”, adding that” the immense majority of officers are against the chaos that is taking hold in Venezuela “.

Writing in the Washington Post, law professor Ozan Varol proclaimed:” The Venezuelan military is the levee that’s keeping the democratic movement at bay to safeguard the Maduro regime. Only if the military forces shatters can the river of republic hop the banks .”

But many political analysts say a coup is unlikely due to a developing and mutually beneficial confederation between the Maduro government and the military. Amid the country’s worst economic crisis in modern history and polls showing that the vast majority of Venezuelans crave the president to go, they say the armed forces have helped keep Maduro in agency in exchange for a developing list of economic perks.

Ricardo Sucre, a military expert and former naval policeman, says that ever since Hugo Chavez ushered in Venezuela’s socialist revolution in 1999, the government has promoted a so-called civic-military union in which troops and officers involve themselves in all aspects of national developing.

A one-time legion paratrooper, Chavez remained deeply to participate in military affairs during his 14 years in power, weighing in on everything from advertisings to the color of uniforms.

Maduro- a former bus driver and union president- has no ties to the armed forces yet the civic-military partnership has deepened since he was elected president in 2013 following Chavez’s death from cancer.

For one thing, the ruling Socialist party was largely organized around Chavez. Under Maduro, the party has lacked arrangement and leadership and the armed forces have filled the power vacuum, says Rafael Uzcategui, who directs the Caracas human rights group Provea.

And amid rising unrest Maduro now relies on the armed forces to protect him by putting down street protests, says Phil Gunson, who is based in Caracas for the International Crisis Group.

However, Gunson adds:” The military also requires Maduro because they would rather not rule themselves. They don’t want a uniformed general in the presidency because it looks bad and is various kinds of out of manner. So, Maduro is a good front man. He stimulates life good for them. If you are a general and play by the rules you can make a lot of money .”

President
President Nicolas Maduro, second right, participates in a cabinet session in ministers in Caracas last week. Photograph: Miraflores Handout/ EPA

Now, active duty or retired military officers make up nearly half of Maduro’s cabinet and hold many other key posts. They are in charge of everything from arms procurement to steel production to food distribution. The armed forces even operate a flower that produces bottled water.

But the most glaring sign of the military’s ascendancy came late last year during a shake-up at the crucial state-run oil company, known as PDVSA. Petroleum reports for about 95% of Venezuela’s export earnings.

Yet instead of choosing an industry veteran to running PDVSA, Maduro selected Manuel Quevedo, an active duty national guard general. Quevedo has no experience in the oil spot but won over the president by helping to break up anti-Maduro demonstrations in 2014.

For Maduro” political patriotism is much more important than technological knowhow “, Uzcategui says.” Competence is wholly secondary and that’s one of the reasons why we are in the middle of an economic crisis .”

Maria Corina Machado, who heads the rightwing opposition party Vente Venezuela, insists that mid-level officers and rank-and-file troops are deep affected by the crisis, which has led to hyperinflation, a collapse of the currency and chronic shortages of food and drug. She says policemen” often reach out to me to say:’ We do not support what is going on. This is a disaster that has to be stopped .'”

But according to Sucre, the armed forces harbor little trust or respect for the political opposition, which is subdivided over leadership and strategy. That’s why, he says,” there is almost no chance of a takeover .”

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ world/ 2018/ jan/ 09/ calls-for-a-coup-in-venezuela-ignore-the-fact-that-the-generals-are-doing-nicely