Socialist Venezuela has announced new measures to activate its military, including a schedule of events intended to incorporate civilians into marches and other “revolutionary” activity in case the nation needs to wage a “prolonged war of the people.”
The events appear to be scheduled to begin shortly before President-elect Donald Trump assumes the highest office in the United States on January 20.
The Venezuelan state will employ “all its internal, natural, material, human potential” in a struggle against “the Empire,” typically used to refer to the United States, in case of invasion, according to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López.
The Venezuelan government has repeatedly implied it expects the United States to launch an Iraq-style invasion within its borders, which the White House has repeatedly disregarded as rumor-mongering. “For this we need to generate a greater consciousness and preparation every day, and that is why we are doing these exercises,” he explained.
In case of a foreign “invasion,” Padrino López asserted, Venezuela would need to rely on “the concept of the prolonged people’s war.”
Venezuelan state television is announcing multiple mandatory events in light of the new Defense Ministry order. “Integral Defense Organs” in Caracas will be activated as part of the “Operational Plan for the Integral Anti-Imperialist Exercise Zamora 200,” according to state TV, which does not elaborate on this plan other than to note that civilians will be involved. 350 civilian “militia” members have been deployed throughout the nation for the launch of this program on Saturday. One militia head suggested the exercises were necessary in case of “commotion that would affect the internal order.”
Soldiers, meanwhile, marched in an activity that state TV described as “patriotic, Bolivarian, economic, military-related, and security-related in nature.”
The military displays echo similar exercises in Cuba, Venezuela’s closest ally, which launched a “Fighting People’s March” this month in which soldiers threatened to shoot President Barack Obama with so many bullets he would be wearing “a hat made of lead.” The march, speculated to be an attempt to intimidate incoming President Trump, was announced shortly after his election and was postponed following the death of dictator Fidel Castro.
The President-elect made clear he opposes the human rights violations and socialist oppression of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro while on the campaign trail throughout 2016. His choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had a storied and hostile history with Venezuela’s Chavista government, having taken late dictator Hugo Chávez to court himself after the government expropriated various Exxon Mobil properties in the South American nation.
Maduro has nonetheless appeared to accept Trump’s presidency. “I aspire, hope, and will work so that, hopefully, with the next presidency with Donald Trump, an independent, Bolivarian Venezuela, peaceful and revolutionary, will have the best respectful relations with the United States of America,” Maduro said after Trump was elected.