The military high command is the main support of the Venezuelan president. However, there is discontent in low-level sectors of the forces.
While the support of a large part of the international community to the oath of Juan Guaidó as “president in charge” of Venezuela delights the opponents of the regime, it is also true that the Venezuelan Armed Forces have invariably maintained their position of support for President Nicolás Maduro. Today the militants are the main base of support that the Chavista leader has.
Beyond the internal and external support of the National Assembly and, therefore, Guaidó as president, the possibility that the military high command stops functioning as a shield of Maduro seems remote, at least in the short term.
Last week there was an uprising in Caracas by low-ranking officers of the National Guard. However, it is more an isolated event than a concrete possibility of rebellion.
The international news agency Reuters, referred to the strategy of Maduro to get the high command of the forces to support the Bolivarian government. In that sense, this media highlighted that Chávez’s successor has appointed officers in charge of key positions in the government and state oil company PDVSA, in addition to having offered them lucrative contracts in services of oil fields of companies linked to the army.
There are several episodes that show the strong link between the Government and the high command. During the demonstrations that took place in the Venezuelan streets during 2017, the security forces took a brutally repressive attitude. On the other hand, they gave their support to the creation of the National Constituent Assembly that displaced the Congress, which was in the hands of the opposition.
The situation of the low-ranking military, however, is far from being the best. Their salaries, like those of all Venezuelans, suffered declines in real terms due to inflation that reached 2 million percent during 2018. In addition, the military installations are suffering a significant deterioration.
On the other hand, according to official documents, around 4,000 soldiers deserted in the last year.
Taking advantage of this discontent, since the Venezuelan opposition there are open negotiations with part of the lower level of the forces, to get them to abandon Maduro. However, specialized sources firmly claim that the top brass will remain firm until the president leaves office.