Venezuela’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, asked Nicolás Maduro to step down, warning him that if he did not, it would be the general who would leave office, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday quoting a US intelligence source.
During the last few years, Padrino López has played a fundamental role in maintaining loyalty to the regime inside the barracks, even though the discontent within the Armed Forces has increased as the Venezuelan crisis deepens.
“According to a US intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss sensitive issues, Maduro’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, told the president last month to resign or accept his resignation, threat that has not yet executed, “the newspaper reported in an article where it indicates that the Venezuelan crisis is sharpened from one day to another.
The newspaper also noted that the regime has been registering high-level desertions, including recently that of Chavista magistrate Christian Zerpa, who told a press conference upon arriving in Florida that Maduro frequently receives his orders from Cuban officials.
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The Washington Post article contrasts, however, with the latest pronouncements made publicly by Padrino López.
In a statement read Tuesday before the state television cameras, the general guaranteed the absolute loyalty of the military to Maduro, who is scheduled to be sworn in to a new six-year term on Thursday, despite the massive rejection of the international community.
The military leadership expresses “its unrestricted support and absolute loyalty to (...) our commander-in-chief, for the period 2019 - 2025,” said Padrino.