Caracas, March 16, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Over 100,000 Venezuelans mobilized throughout the country for a series of national military exercises in defense of their national sovereignty on Saturday.
Organized by the Ministry of Defense, the exercise comes in response to an executive order issued by the Obama administration last week branding Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” and sanctioning seven top Bolivarian officials.
“The defense of the motherland is the duty of all Venezuelans, which should be taken up by private enterprises, public institutions, and all instances of the government and the state,” declared defense minister Vladimir Padrino López from the capital’s principal military installation at Fuerte Tiuna.
The exercise featured the participation of 20,000 civilian volunteers who joined an additional 80,000 soldiers of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces in nationwide preparations for a potential U.S. aggression against the Bolivarian Republic.
Alongside active duty soldiers participated members of the Bolivarian Militia, which was expanded by over 35,000 members by President Chávez in 2010. The Bolivarian Militia represents the foundation of a popular “civic-military alliance” that has kept the Bolivarian Revolution in power amid repeated efforts to overthrow the government, including the reversed 2002 coup backed by the United States.
“These exercises are not a bellicose demonstration of our armament systems, but are more than anything about bringing our people together,” added Padrino López.
Bolivarian soldiers and civilians additionally welcomed the participation of a contingent of Russian soldiers and naval craft, who assisted in exercises testing Venezuela’s air defense system, which included the launching of Russian-made BM-30 Smerch ground to air missiles.
The defensive preparations inaugurated on Saturday will continue over the course of ten days, encompassing approximately 30 exercises.
Thousands March in Caracas Backing Venezuela’s Maduro Against U.S. Aggression
Thousands of Venezuelans filled the streets of the capital on Sunday in support of a new constitutional enabling law that authorizes President Maduro to pass legislation in defense against U.S. threats to national sovereignty, which was approved in a special session of the National Assembly that very day.
Waving banners that read “peace” and “Yankees go home,” the seemingly endless columns of demonstrators reached Miraflores Palace, where they were addressed by President of the Republic Nicolas Maduro.
Praising the displays of national unity and international solidarity that have been witnessed in Venezuela and diverse countries around the world, the Venezuelan leader called for mobilizations in defense of Venezuelan sovereignty to continue.
“In name of the Venezuelan people, I call on all the popular movements, all of the solidarity movements, all of our sister peoples in the world, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, […] to stay mobilized in order to speak the truth and demand throughout the world that President Barack Obama revoke the [executive] decree threatening Venezuela.”
The last several days have seen large marches in solidarity with Venezuela staged in capitals throughout the world, including Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Spain, China, and Russia.
This mood of popular repudiation of U.S. aggression against Venezuela by international civil society was reflected at the regional level in a UNASUR statement rejecting U.S. interference and calling for dialogue.
For his part, The Venezuelan head of state emphasized his government’s willingness to dialogue with the Obama administration, “wherever, however, and whenever […] with respect, with equality, without pretence, without arrogance.”
To this end, he instructed the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S., Maximilian Arveláez, to travel to Washington this Monday in order to urge the State Department to repeal the executive order sanctioning Venezuela.
President Maduro, moreover, urged Venezuelans to communicate directly with the U.S. president, calling on 10 million people to sign a letter addressed to Mr. Obama demanding the repeal of his latest executive order.
“I propose that we take this letter […] to all of the public plazas of the country in order for no less than 10 million Venezuelans to sign,” announced the Venezuelan president, outlining a popular and democratic response to U.S. aggression.