Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship has ordered civilians to join in “civic-military exercises” to prepare for what government officials claim is an upcoming invasion of the country by U.S. forces under President Donald Trump.
Venezuela’s state-run television spent the weekend broadcasting propaganda footage of troops training and what appeared to be an improvised boot camp set up for any civilians who wished to participate, including tires, ropes, and crawling exercises. The Venezuelan military controls the nation’s food supply and is largely responsible for the nation’s widespread human rights abuses against unarmed protesters.
Venezuelan minister of defense Vladimir Padrino López told state media the exercises were necessary to protect Venezuela from armed invasion after Trump told reporters last month that he had not discounted a military option to liberate the nation’s people. “It is impressive how the people of Venezuela have mobilized and this is a positive sign regarding the people’s capacity to respond, how the people feel about their nation,” Padrino said in state media.
The state reports confirm dictator Nicolás Maduro personally ordered the “2017 Bolivarian Sovereignty Civic-Military Exercises,” which includes civilians signing up to fight in the military in addition to the public exercises. Venezuelan state media claim that “dozens of thousands of people” participated in the event.
Exercises began on Sunday.
— Javier Guerrero (@JavierJoseGM) August 27, 2017
Public officials quoted in government-controlled media argued that the nation must now shift into a wartime mode of thinking to prepare for American invasion. “We are working to develop the concept of war for the whole people, where each citizen is a defender of the Fatherland, a defender of sovereignty and independence,” Ramón Carrizales, governor of Apure state, said.
Venezuelan exiles mocked the exercises on Twitter, with one user comparing the exercises to standard American military training in a video.
Ruta de obstáculos:
Reclutas Gringos VS Bolivarianos pic.twitter.com/ckGhqLthvk
— Samuel Rodriguez 🍕 (@sampinsss) August 27, 2017
The newspaper El Nacional, one of the few remaining independent media outlets in the country, reported that at least one man died during the exercises of a heart attack. Such incidents are possible when requiring individuals with no military training to engage in robust exercises without prior medical analyses to ensure they are in stable condition to engage in such activity.
Venezuela’s health care system is in ruins, with hospitals lacking access to 95 percent of the medicines necessary to run a functional state health care system. Venezuelans themselves are also severely malnourished, with nearly 90 percent unable to afford to purchase three meals’ worth of a food per day.
Venezuelan officials claimed last week that they cannot pay for food or medicine imports, blaming the United States for the lack of basic resources in the country.
In addition to broadcasting the exercises, Venezuelan state television has begun publishing military propaganda on YouTube as well as broadcasting it throughout the nation, showing footage of the Venezuelan military allegedly in action.
The socialist Venezuelan regime appears to be using recent American sanctions against its members to galvanize the public away from protesting the government’s mismanagement and abuse of power. Last week, the U.S. Treasury announced a new round of sanctions that would prevent American companies from buying Venezuelan debt, cutting off a key income supply the government uses to fund military weapons and vehicles used to injure and killed unarmed pro-democracy protesters.
“The United States reiterates our call that Venezuela restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression of the Venezuelan people. We continue to stand with the people of Venezuela during these trying times,” the White House said in a statement regarding the new sanctions.
Trump has personally said he would not dismiss the use of military power to restore the democratic order in Venezuela, but the administration has made clear that it perceives such a move as a last resort.