The growing number of Venezuelan defectors are actively seeking the creation of a dissident armed force to liberate their home country.
Recent calls from Juan Guaidó, the self-declared president of Venezuela, and political opposition to dictator Nicolás Maduro, for military defectors to join him and stand against the current regime have not gone unheard.
International media are reporting on a small but growing group of former Venezuelan security and defense personnel organizing to fight against the government in Caracas. At the center of this effort is one Eddier Rodriguez, a former army sergeant who until recently was working as a security guard in Bogotá, Colombia. Rodriguez is among the hundreds of Venezuelan members of the military, police, and intelligence services who answered Guaidó’s call to stand on “the right side of history” three months ago.
Rodriguez recently left his job in Bogotá, the high-altitude capital of Colombia, and moved to Cúcuta, a Colombian city at the border with Venezuela’s western state of Táchira, to work on a plan he has dubbed Operation Venezuela. There, he has organized some 150 former members of various security forces to create a dissident armed force, and participate in a plan to “liberate” Venezuela.
So far, Rodriguez’ plan has faced some serious obstacles, not the least of which have come from his current host country. Victor Bautista, border director for Colombia’s foreign ministry, has stated in response to the militia’s formation, that any groups who actually took up arms would be considered a paramilitary organization and would be detained by authorities if they were found. Furthermore, Rodriguez still needs to get equipment. He has said neither Guaidó nor Venezuelan businessmen have answered his request for weapons.
Still, the presence of a substantial force of trained military personnel ready to fight the Maduro government could prove to be an important factor in the Venezuelan crisis, one that could contribute to any large-scale conflict that may ensue between loyalists and defectors.