CARACAS (Reuters) – A Venezuelan general urged the country's armed forces on Sunday to rise up against President Nicolas Maduro, who has invoked the military's support to hold on to power despite an economic collapse.
FILE PHOTO: Government officials holding a Venezuelan flag participate in a rally against US President Donald Trump in Caracas, Venezuela, August 14, 2017. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino
Ramon Rangel, who identified himself as an Air Force General, said that the Venezuelan government is controlled by the "communist dictatorship" in Cuba – an important Maduro ally.
"We need to find a way to get rid of fear, go out into the streets, protest and seek a military union to change this political system," Rangel, wearing a suit with a copy of the constitution in his hand, said in a video published on YouTube. "It's time to get up."
While Rangel's statement marks another blow to Maduro after a handful of similar shortcomings of senior executives this year, there is little to indicate that he will tip the waves.
Officer who has dismissed Maduro has fled the country and the military summit – especially those controlling troops – continues to recognize Maduro.
The Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters couldn't get comments from Rangel. Air Force Commissioner Pedro Juliac posted a picture of Rangel on Twitter on Sunday with the words "traitors to the Venezuelan people and the revolution" printed on the picture.
Rangel was an active military officer who fled to Colombia last month, according to a source near Venezuelan military who requested not to be identified.
Unlike other officers who have made similar statements, Rangel did not vote for support for the Juan Guaido opposition leader who called for the Constitution in January to adopt the Interim Presidency and argued that Maduro's 2018 re-election was a fraud.
More than 50 nations, including the United States and most South American nations, call Guaido Venezuela's legitimate leader.
Guaido and a group of soldiers urged the armed forces on April 30 to put on Maduro, but the military never collapsed and the uprising collapsed. The government called the event a coup attempt and accused a group of 10 opposition lawmakers of treason to join rallies that day.
Venezuela suffers from a hyperinflationary collapse that has begun a migration stretch of about 3.5 million people over the past three years.
Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Paul Tait