Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, was interviewed by BBC World News on the future of the Venezuelan armed forces amidst continuing protests as well as the possibility of US and Russian intervention.
Comments from Michael Shifter:
“We’re in a situation where the crucial actor at this point is not necessarily Maduro or Guaidó or the United States or Russia but the Venezuelan armed forces. They have to decide what they’re going to do in the situation, whether they’re going to crush the opposition or they’re going to find a way out for Maduro and try to look to form another government.”
“[The military] is very vested in this regime, they’ve been involved in very lucrative and illicit activities so they’re hoping that this is going to continue. I don’t think they see Maduro as the best guarantor of that so they’re going to try to look for another formula so they can protect their interests and at the same time try to exercise some control over the country. The problem is the military is fractured at this point and I think what’s required is negotiations and discussions and deliberations within the armed force to figure out how to do that. If there is an eventual transition you’re going have to face the question of what kind of amnesty or protection will you give to the military who are accused of human rights abuses and widespread corruption.”
“There’s really no support for a military intervention, I think it would be a disaster and I think people are beginning to look at the consequences of that. Russia’s just trying to thumb its nose in the backyard of the United States and South America. I don’t think there are signs that it’s very serious, that [Russia] will make a strong commitment to defending the Maduro regime.”