By Andrea Sosa Cabrios (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Nicolas Maduro appears frequently flanked by soldiers: officers in red berets, paratroopers, pilots in green uniforms. The social networks of the president of Venezuela are full of photos and videos of him with the Armed Forces. The president needs them.
They are his guarantee of survival. Or they could also be those who send him into exile. “The fall of Maduro will come from the side of the military,” says German sociologist Heinz Dieterich, an ideologue of the so-called Socialism of the 21st Century and informal adviser to Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor who ruled from 1999 to 2013, the year in which he died.
The pressure is mounting in Venezuela. Opposition parliamentarian Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself interim president and wants to call for elections, won recognition on Monday from more than a dozen European countries. The United States, Canada and several Latin American governments had already recognized him.
Dieterich, 75, runs a research center at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City, where he has lived since 1976. After studying in Bremen, he traveled to Mexico on an academic exchange program, obtained a job and stayed.
Author of several books, he developed his career especially in Latin America, where his ideas influenced politicians and leftist militaries, particularly Chavez, a former military officer and father of the Bolivarian revolution.
And although they later distanced themselves, the German sociologist remembers him as someone “exceptional”. On the other hand, he considers Maduro, the current president of Venezuela, “a failed man with no future.”
Dieterich has long known the way of thinking of Latin American colonels and generals and says he is in contact with officers of the Venezuelan military. He is sure that they will not sacrifice themselves for Maduro.
“Washington has already practically got Maduro isolated from the European continent,” he told dpa.
“To the extent that the political-diplomatic isolation and a financial-economic stranglehold advances, time is running out, and it is clear to the military that Maduro has zero chance of survival,” he adds.
For now, the military leadership, which is in charge of several strategic economic sectors of Venezuela, remains with Maduro, while Guaido tries to seduce them with promises of amnesty.
“If the military tomorrow declare that they withdraw the Presidential Guard from Miraflores Palace, that same day the masses would take Miraflores and kill Maduro,” says Dieterich.
“They can tell him: there is a plane at the airport that will take you wherever you want and with whom you want, we give you 24 hours, and after 24 hours the Armed Forces can no longer guarantee your safety,” he suggests.
“Maduro is going to accept, exile is better than being killed like Gaddafi,” says Dieterich. The Libyan leader, who governed more than 40 years, was beaten and killed in 2011 by rebel militants. “Many people will be thinking that when Maduro leaves office, it’s time for revenge,” he adds.
That is why the analyst sees an important role for the military in the transition as a counterweight and to prevent the country from being subject to the interests of Washington.
“If the military does not assume a leading role in defining the conditions of the transition, everything will be in the hands of Guaido,” says Dieterich, who sees the 35-year-old politician as no more than an “employee of the empire”, adding that Venezuela is already in the electoral interests of Washington for 2020.
The German sociologist, who keeps a beret that Chavez gave him, thinks about a transition involving about 150 military who are imprisoned, especially in some 15 former high commanders, more than in the current military leadership.
“All these current people are burned because the population holds them responsible for the deaths that have taken place in the protests. “They cannot conduct a transition,” he said.
Dieterich talks instead of a third force, between the “extremes” of Guaido and Maduro, with the participation of the military and support from China and Russia to “balance the forces”.
“The decisive battle is here today: over who will manage the transition,” says Dieterich. “That will decide the future of Venezuela.”