‘It’s Time to Rise Up,’ Venezuelan General Tells Military Officers in Video

May 13, 2019 Updated: May 13, 2019

CARACAS—A Venezuelan general called on the country’s armed forces on Sunday, May 12, to rise up against Nicolas Maduro, who has relied on the backing of the military to hold on to power despite an economic collapse.

Ramon Rangel, who identified himself as an air force general, said the Venezuelan government is being controlled by the “communist dictatorship” in Cuba—a key Maduro ally.

“We have to find a way to get rid of the fear, to go out into the streets, to protest, and to seek a military union to change this political system,” Rangel, dressed in a suit with a copy of the constitution in his hand, said in a video posted on YouTube. “It’s time to rise up.”

While Rangel’s pronouncement marks another blow to Maduro after a handful of similar defections by senior officers this year, there is little to indicate that he will tip the scales.

Officers who have disavowed Maduro have fled the country, and the military top brass—most notably those who command troops—continues to recognize Maduro.

The information ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Air Force Commander Pedro Juliac posted a picture of Rangel on Twitter on Sunday with the words “traitor to the Venezuelan people and the revolution” printed across the image.

Rangel was an active military officer who fled to Colombia last month, according to a source close to Venezuela’s military who asked not to be identified.

More than 50 nations, including the United States and most South American nations, called Juan Guaidó Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Guaidó and a group of soldiers called on the armed forces on April 30 to turn on Maduro, but the military never joined and the uprising was dealt a setback.

Venezuela is suffering a hyperinflationary collapse that has fueled a migration exodus of some 3.5 million people in the past three years.

By Brian Ellsworth

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