“Pay the soldiers. The rest do not matter.”
This was the deathbed counsel given to his sons by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in A.D. 211.
Nicolas Maduro must today appreciate the emperor’s insight.
For the political survival of this former bus driver and union boss hangs now upon whether Venezuela’s armed forces choose to stand by him or to desert him and support National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.
Wednesday, Guaido declared Maduro’s election last May to a second six-year term to be a sham, and had himself inaugurated as acting president.
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Thursday, the defense minister and army chief General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, with his top brass, dismissed the 35-year-old Guaido as a U.S. puppet, and pledged allegiance to Maduro.
Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. … Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”
By Friday, however, the world had already taken sides.
Russia and China stood by Maduro, as did NATO ally Turkey, with President Erdogan phoning his support. Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia were also with Maduro.
Backing Guaido are Venezuela’s neighbors Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia, the U.S. and Canada, and the Organization of American States.
Britain, France, Germany and Spain have sent Maduro a diplomatic ultimatum: Agree in eight days to new elections or we back the 35-year-old Guaido, who, until this year, was an unknown.
All options are on the table, says President Donald Trump. But Russia called Guaido’s action a “quasi-coup” and warned that intervention…