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AP Explains: Venezuela Opposition's Fight to Win over Troops

February 19, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump and Venezuela’s opposition are pushing the military to let in humanitarian aid in the belief that it could break a month-long standoff over power in the troubled South American nation. But top commanders are showing no signs of breaking their loyalty to Nicolas Maduro and disgruntled rank-and-file troops have yet to act.

In a speech to Venezuela’s exile community in South Florida on Monday, Trump warned Venezuela’s military that standing by Maduro could bring disastrous consequences. “You will lose everything,” he said...

The opposition is hedging its bets on a simple premise: That if rank-and-file troops let the aid in, they will essentially have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s commander in chief.

They believe that troops will have difficulty at a fundamental, moral level in using force to stop a mass group of civilians trying to get aid in and are likely to think of their own struggling families.

Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society, a Washington-based think tank, said that to take that step troops will need to be certain that the international community has their back.

He said that while Trump and others have used strong rhetoric, seeking to ensure those who take the risk that they will be rewarded, troops may still be skeptical as to whether it’s just talk.

“At the end of the day, this is an individual choice,” he said. “It’s not just your career; it’s your actual life. I think the key is to make sure that those who do take that decision are protected in some way.”...

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