Who are the top military leaders who have kept Maduro in power?
Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro regime has lost the support of much of the population and now faces many in the international community that oppose him because he declared himself president following a reelection marred by complaints of fraud.
For now, the regime continues to control the armed forces even though the barracks are experiencing the same frustrations as the rest of the population, according to recent reports and videos in the news media and social networks.
These are the senior military officers who are helping Maduro to maintain control over the Venezuelan armed forces:
Admiral Remigio Ceballos Ichaso
Head of the strategic operational command, he came up through the ranks of the Venezuelan marine corps. The command is an elite shock unit. He’s very close to Maduro and has vowed to fight a guerrilla war if he’s toppled. He received training in the United States and Israel.
Maj. Gen. Néstor Luis Reverol Torres
Head of the National Guard and Interior Minister. He commands the police units that support Maduro. His support for the regime is viewed as unbending, especially because he faces drug trafficking charges in the United States.
Gen. Vladimir Padrino López
He is the most visible face of the military leaders, but acts more like a public figure than a Minister of Defense. He graduated among the top students at the Military Academy and received training in the United States. Many believe he joined the Bolivarian Revolution out of convenience, but wound up being one of the longest-serving defense ministers in Venezuelan history.
Maj. Gen. Jesús Suárez Chourio
Head of the army and one of the officers who accompanied the late Hugo Chávez in his failed coup attempt of Feb. 4, 1992. He’s considered one of the most loyal supporters of Chavismo, but has little support within the military ranks. His usefulness as a military officer is questioned by some, but Maduro keeps him on to project the image that the officers who were around Chávez, who started the Bolivarian Revolution, still support the regime.
Maj. Gen. Richard López Vargas
He commands the National Guard but is not regarded as a strong supporter of Chavista ideology. But he’s politically skilled and has always managed to maneuver well within the ranks of Chavismo.
Gen. Ramón Balza Liota
One of the key figures in military counterintelligence and one of the most loyal Maduro supporters. He’s not the commander of military counterintelligence but exerts strong controls over intelligence and counterintelligence operations and the unit in charge of detecting possible conspiracies.