Three Venezuelan air force generals have been arrested on charges of plotting a coup against Nicolas Maduro’s government, the WSJ reports:
Mr. Maduro thanked the “powerful morality of our Bolivarian National Armed Forces” for the capture, saying the suspects had links to Venezuela’s political opposition and had conspired to launch a coup this week.Mr. Maduro, like his late predecessor Hugo Chávez, has several times announced alleged conspiracies against his government without offering proof. The government nor military officials returned calls seeking comment.The military is a vital institution of support for Mr. Maduro’s government and formed the backbone of the socialist movement started some 15 years ago by Mr. Chávez, who was a former tank commander.“If Maduro begins to see members of the military that are starting to budge, starting to question the approach by the political folks in the government then you know they would be in trouble,” said Carl Meacham, director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
The alleged coup comes in the midst of unrest that has been buffeting the country for two months now. Dozens have died in mass protests against government corruption, product shortages, and crippling inflation. Venezuela’s socialist economy is crumbling and is expected to disintegrate even more, despite the skyrocketing price of oil, Venezuela’s top export.Maduro continues to blame these woes on elaborate, American-led conspiracies, just as his predecessor did. However, Maduro doesn’t have Chavez’s political savvy. He may need to acquire some soon, if this alleged coup is actually any kind of indicator of the mood in the Venezuelan military. As it is in most authoritarian regimes, control of the country hinges on control of the military. If he loses that control, then Maduro’s days as top Bolivarian may be numbered.