Key role of Venezuelan military in crisis takes center stage

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Key role of Venezuelan military in crisis takes center stage
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, accompanied by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, waves upon his arrival to Fort Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Associated Press has learned that at least twice since 2016, the U.S. government missed chances to cultivate relations with regime insiders, including Padrino, who National Security Adviser John Bolton said backed out of a plan to topple Maduro. (Jhonn Zerpa/Miraflores Press Office via AP)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The critical role of the Venezuelan military in the country’s crisis is on display this weekend as President Nicolás Maduro seeks to maintain its support and opposition leader Juan Guaidó tries to woo it to his side.

National television on Saturday showed Maduro wearing a camouflage hat as he met soldiers and watched them train at a military base, while opposition supporters prepared to demonstrate outside bases in a bid to encourage an uprising.

A key figure in the conflict is Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, who has supported Maduro.

On Tuesday, Guaidó appeared outside a Caracas military base with a small group of security forces and called in vain on the military to overthrow the socialist leader. Clashes between protesters and police then erupted, leaving five dead.