A Venezuelan colonel loyal to dictator Nicolás Maduro reportedly forced a soldier who denounced the socialist regime to model a “street woman” outfit as punishment, the Argentine news organization Infobae reported Thursday.
According to Infobae, Colonel José Esteban Naranjo Arrieche forced his subordinate Major Carlos Enrique Roso Romero to dress as a woman and humiliate himself in front of troops in the canteen of the National Combat Training Center.
Naranjo allegedly forced Roso into the act after he pledged allegiance to President Juan Guaidó, who legally became the nation’s commander-in-chief after the expiration of Maduro’s term in January.
The humiliation was reportedly organized via WhatsApp, where soldiers stationed at Fort Kinimarí in westernmost Táchira state were invited by Naranjo to what they were told was the unveiling of a division poster. To their surprise, attendees were instead shown Roso dressed as a woman and wearing make-up.
The incident represented a direct breach of the military’s own rules. Infobae cites Article 71 of the Military Protocol Regulations, stating that soldiers should be stripped of their military status in accordance with a strict ceremonial protocol. The Argentine outlet lamented the incident as a demonstration of the “level of moral and ethical decomposition of Venezuela’s military institution.”
Such humiliation was imposed on Roso over his support for Guaidó, which senior military commanders considered an act of “treason” against the Maduro regime. Thousands of soldiers have deserted the military in recent years due to low wages and its support for Maduro, although nearly all the military high command remain loyal to the socialist regime.
The Venezuelan military effectively operates as an arm of the regime, with those in senior positions appointed based on their loyalty to the regime and Chavista ideology. The military has long used its repressive apparatus to ensure the Maduro regime’s control of the country, with hundreds of opposition protesters killed in recent years during anti-government demonstrations that have often descended into violence.
Last month, Juan Guaidó announced that some sections of the military had deserted the regime and had agreed to recognize him as the country’s legitimate president, with the aim of instigating a transition to democracy in the crisis-stricken country. The uprising failed as the highest levels of the military refused to abandon Maduro. Guaidó followed up the April failed takeover by agreeing to talks with the regime in Norway.