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Brazilian Generals Rule Out Military Intervention In Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Maduro retains his military’s backing for now, despite international support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Posted on January 24, 2019, at 2:57 p.m. ET

Carlos Eduardo Ramirez / Reuters

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro has all but lost the fight to stay in power, Brazilian generals told BuzzFeed News on Thursday, stating that any actions the embattled president takes will be “tactical” — but without any chance of success.

The assessment of the military officials surrounding Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro — who requested anonymity to speak freely on a sensitive diplomatic matter — is that it’s only a matter of time before Maduro leaves Venezuela. He would only remain, according to these generals, if he is a “suicidal fanatic.”

Maduro’s failure, in the military’s eyes, is thanks to two recent failures: an inability to keep the opposition from declaring the presidency vacant after Maduro won a second term in an election viewed as rigged by international observers, and the recognition that world leaders quickly heaped upon the new government.

Venezuela has had two people claiming the presidency since Wednesday, when opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old head of the country’s National Assembly, declared that he was assuming the role of interim president. Guaidó was recognized almost immediately by the United States, Brazil, and 10 other countries.

In addition to international support, Guaidó appears to have the support of the majority of the population, which has been impoverished by the yearslong economic and social collapse of Venezuela. Tens of thousands of people turned out Wednesday to take part in the biggest protests the country has seen since 2017. But he does not appear to have the support of the country’s army — which remains loyal to Maduro — despite outreach efforts aimed at lower-ranking officials.

“We’re here to avoid a clash between Venezuelans,” Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said in a televised speech Thursday. “It’s not a civil war, a war among brothers, that will resolve Venezuelans’ problems.”

The Brazilian generals who spoke with BuzzFeed News ruled out any intervention by the Brazilian Armed Forces in Venezuela — other than in a humanitarian capacity — and said they hoped for a quick solution to the crisis, since a lengthy crisis could lead to even greater suffering among civilians.

Adding to the drama, Padrino reportedly called Brazilian Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo on Tuesday, one day before the country’s political crisis hit its new stage. According to reports, the political drama was not addressed in the phone call — but within military diplomacy circles, the conversation was interpreted as an appeal to avoid any kind of intervention.

Norberto Duarte / AFP / Getty Images

But, according to the generals, the current view is that the international community should facilitate Maduro’s exit from Venezuela by offering what they call “winning victories to the loser”: Allow him to give a speech, leave office, and flee the country to seek asylum in a friendly country.

This post was translated from Portuguese.

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