Venezuela Op­po­si­tion Plans In­cen­tives for Of­fi­cers


CARA­CAS (Reuters) Venezuela’s op­po­si­tion-led congress is con­sid­er­ing of­fer­ing le­gal in­cen­tives to mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who dis­avow Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro and help lead a tran­si­tion to a new gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to four leg­is­la­tors and a draft doc­u­ment seen by Reuters.

Maduro was sworn in on Thurs­day for a sec­ond term fol­low­ing a dis­puted 2018 elec­tion, trig­ger­ing a hail­storm of in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism that his lead­er­ship of the coun­try suf­fer­ing a hy­per­in­fla­tion­ary col­lapse is il­le­git­i­mate.

The pro­posal, which comes in part at the re­quest of high­rank­ing of­fi­cers on ac­tive duty, seeks to en­sure that de­fec­tors from the armed forces would not be per­se­cuted by a fu­ture gov­ern­ment if they aban­don Maduro, ac­cord­ing to the leg­is­la­tors, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied.

It would ap­ply to of­fi­cers who “do not obey the orders of the man who has usurped the Pres­i­dency of the Repub­lic ... and col­lab­o­rate with the tra­di­tion and re-es­tab­lish­ment of con­sti­tu­tional or­der,” the draft says.

The plan shows the op­po­si­tion in­creas­ingly fo­cussed on the mil­i­tary as cru­cial in re­mov­ing the rul­ing So­cial­ist Party from power. But the law will al­most cer­tainly be thrown out by the pro-Maduro Supreme Court, mean­ing its le­gal im­pact would re­main sym­bolic as long as Maduro is in of­fice.

Op­po­si­tion lead­ers have faced sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles in re­cruit­ing mil­i­tary dis­si­dents due to Maduro’s con­tin­ued sway over the armed forces and a crack­down on ac­cused in­sur­gents that hu­man rights groups have said in­cludes tor­ture of of­fi­cers and abuse of their fam­i­lies.

Plans to of­fer in­cen­tives to of­fi­cers as a way of has­ten­ing Maduro’s de­par­ture has not been pre­vi­ously re­ported.

Op­po­si­tion lead­ers have pub­licly dis­cussed cre­at­ing a tran­si­tion plan, as well as amnesty for mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who are al­ready in jail on ac­cu­sa­tions of con­spir­ing against Maduro many of whom the op­po­si­tion con­sid­ers po­lit­i­cal prison­ers.

Congress plans to vote on the 17-page draft doc­u­ment en­ti­tled “Law Gov­ern­ing the Tran­si­tion to Democ­racy” in the com­ing weeks, the leg­is­la­tors said.

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