Venezuelan President Murderous Dictator Nicolas Maduro has managed to hang on to power in large part because he’s kept Venezuela’s military firmly in the pro-Socialist camp. So, as the country’s political and economic crisis worsens, Maduro is doing his best to keep the military on his side. Case in point: He just promoted 16,900 soldiers, calling it a reward for their “loyalty,” the BBC reports.
The promotions come as opposition politicians, who were notoriously shut out of Venezeula’s elections this spring, have called on the military to side “with the people” against their socialist oppressors. The promotions also come just a week and a half after the UN Human Rights body released a report accusing the country’s security forces of hundreds of unnecessary and arbitrary killings, alleging that there has been “a pattern of disproportionate and unnecessary use of force by security forces.”
Yet the country’s defense ministry congratulated the soldiers and thanked them for their service.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said those promoted had been “loyal to the constitutionally elected president,” and he also praised them “for respecting human rights.”
Speaking at a ceremony in the capital, Caracas, Gen Padrino said those members of the armed forces who had been promoted had played a key role in securing “the institutional stability in the country and the safeguarding of Venezuelan democracy and peace”.
A little over a month ago, President Maduro demanded that members of the armed forces sign a document declaring their loyalty.
Meanwhile, dozens of high-ranking officers have been imprisoned over allegations they helped further a Western US-backed plot to undermine the Maduro regime. Just two weeks ago, the government sent soldiers to 100 food markets to make sure that mandatory price controls for food were being enforced. Violators were accused of furthering the alleged Western-backed plot that has served as the centerpiece of Maduro’s propaganda.
And in case you were wondering where Maduro is getting the funds to prevent a military coup (like the one that reportedly nearly took place earlier this year), Venezuela just revealed that China has agreed to lend the country another $ 5 billion to increase in oil output.
This is hardly unusual. According to Foreign Policy, between 2007 and 2014, China lent Venezuela $ 63 billion after finding an ideological ally in former President Hugo Chavez, who launched the socialist “Bolivarian revolution” that continues to this day. To put this in context, that amount equals more than half of China’s lending to Latin America. According to Business Insider, China remains Venezuela’s largest lender, with $ 23 billion in outstanding debt.
However, to guarantee repayment, Beijing has typically insisted on being repaid in oil. That has become an increasingly burdensome request following the 2014 collapse in oil prices (though that might soon change as prices move back toward the $ 100 a barrel mark). Still, despite the troubles in Venezuela, the country remains an important component of President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which seeks to spread China’s economic influence around the world. Russia has also made its share of loans to the country. Which raises the question of whether China and Russia can save the Maduro regime from a mass uprising that threatens to unseat the president – particularly as crude production continues to fall, meaning that Venezuela is missing out on many of the benefits of the recovery in crude prices.