CARACAS.- Regional commanders of Venezuela’s armed forces appeared on state television Thursday to express their support for President Nicolas Maduro a day after National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself acting head of state.
«We are a democratic country where the president is elected only by the people, and the people is the sovereign making decisions on our homeland’s destiny,» Maj. Gen. Manuel Bernal Martinez, head of the Andean military district, said.
«The people of Venezuela, through their exercise of the free and secret ballot, elected citizen Nicolas Maduro Moros as president,» he said, accompanied in the video clip by other officers.
Similar messages were conveyed in subsequent clips featuring Gen. Victor Palacio Garcia, commander of the Los Llanos defense region, and Gen. Domingo Hernandez Lares, commander of the Central region.
«We recognize and ratify only our absolute loyalty to the constitutional president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, commander-in-chief of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB), Nicolas Maduro Moros, elected by the people for the 2019-2025 term,» Palacio said.
«Loyal forever, traitors never! Chavez lives!,» he added in a reference to late President Hugo Chavez, leader of the Bolivarian Revolution and Maduro’s mentor.
Hernandez proclaimed «loyalty and absolute subordination to citizen Nicolas Maduro Moros, constitutional president and FANB commander-in-chief, elected by the people and, as such, the only person with direct and supreme command over the FANB.»
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who on Wednesday expressed support for Maduro in a Twitter message, has not commented publically since then.
«Desperation and intolerance threaten the nation’s peace,» Padrino said. «The military does not accept a president imposed under the shadow of dark interests and self-appointed outside the law. The FANB defends our Constitution and guarantees our national sovereignty.»