Venezuela's highest-ranking military officer has rejected the authority of President Nicolas Maduro and recognised opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the country's acting president, according to an AFP report on February 2nd.
In a video posted on social media, Major General Francisco Yanez declared his support for Guaido, the Head of the National Assembly, leading the strongest challenge to Maduro's rule over the country. "I address you to inform you that I disavow the vitiated and dictatorial authority of Nicolas Maduro and recognise Deputy Juan Guaido as the president in charge of Venezuela," he said.
Yanez, who is strategic planning director of the air force high command, asserted that, "90% of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces is not with the dictator, it's with the Venezuelan people." "With the events of the past hours, the transition to democracy is imminent. To continue ordering the armed forces to continue repressing our people is to continue with the deaths from hunger, from disease and, God forbid, combat between ourselves," he warned. Yanez claimed that members of the presidential aircrew had confided to him, "the dictator has two planes ready every day." Yanez added, "May he go!"
Guaido's mobilisation of mass protests in Caracas to back his call for Maduro's resignation caused a crack in the military's united front behind Maduro. Rocio San Miguel, an expert on the Venezuelan military, noted that Yanez does not command troops but nonetheless "it's a hard blow" to the military. The military high command, led by Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino, has sworn absolute loyalty to Maduro despite signs of unrest within the ranks.
On January 21st, a group of National Guard soldiers rose up against Maduro in Caracas.