Venezuelans have spoken, but which leader will their military choose?
Amid a presidential power struggle, an expert says that who the military sides with will be key
As a political crisis unfolds in Venezuela over rival claims to the presidency, one analyst says the key issue to watch is whose side the military will take.
"It was very noticeable that when President [Nicolas] Maduro... went out onto the balcony of the presidential palace yesterday to give his reaction to [opposition leader Juan] Guaido proclaiming himself president, he wasn't accompanied by anybody in uniform," said Phil Gunson, a senior Venezuela analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Gunson told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti the absence of military officials at Maduro's side could be significant.
"The high command, including the defence minister, have since said that they are on the side of the Maduro government, but the support seems to be less than overwhelming," Gunson said.
"It's a fair bet that there are still intense talks going on in the barracks across the country as to whether or not this is the moment to jump ship."
Opposition mounts against Maduro
On Wednesday, the head of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly, Guaido, took an oath swearing himself in as Venezuela's interim president.
His party has urged the country's armed forces, as well as foreign powers, to withdraw support for Maduro.
The U.S., Canada and some Latin American and European countries have since announced their support for Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader, but a number of other countries, including Russia, China, Turkey and Iran, remain on Maduro's side.
Meanwhile, protests have rippled across the country, with opposition supporters taking to the streets to demand Maduro's ouster.
Maduro, who took an oath earlier this month for a second six-year term, has been deeply unpopular in Venezuela. Under his leadership, the country has experienced food shortages, hyperinflation and the arrest of political opponents.
To hear more about the situation in Venezuela, Tremonti spoke with:
- Daniel Alvarez, a political activist and one of thousands of people who were in the streets of Caracas this week calling for Maduro's removal.
- George Ciccariello-Maher, an author and visiting scholar at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics in New York.
- Phil Gunson, senior analyst in Venezuela for the International Crisis Group
Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.
With files from CBC News. Produced by Julie Crysler, Howard Goldenthal and John Chipman.