Venezuela’s defense minister told socialist President Nicolas Maduro to step down last month, and said he would offer his own resignation if he did not, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing an anonymous U.S. intelligence official.
Both Maduro and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez are still in office.
Maduro is set to be sworn in for a second six-year term on Thursday, though most countries in the region have warned him not to take office, calling his May 2018 re-election vote a sham.
Discontent within the military’s ranks has grown as Venezuela’s economic collapse has deepened, prompting millions to migrate.
Security forces tortured dozens of military personnel accused of subversion last year, according to human rights groups, and detentions for desertion have increased.
A U.S. government source said the government believes reports that Padrino threatened to resign if Maduro did not depart are credible.
“Nobody (in the U.S. government) would be surprised if (Padrino) stepped back,” the source added.
However earlier this week Padrino and the rest of the Venezuela military cupola pledged unrestricted support and absolute loyalty to citizen Nicolas Maduro as constitutional president, and as commander in chief of the Armed Forces between 2019 and 2025.
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