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Venezuela heading for civil war, says ex-colonel

Caracas: Venezuela is on course for civil war, one of the country's most respected military analysts has warned.

"If the US go in, it'll be three days. If the Colombians go in, maybe a week," said retired colonel José Machillanda.

People lie on the ground after being detained for allegedly looting a supermarket during a continued power outage in Santa Cruz del Este, Caracas, Venezuela.Credit:Bloomberg

"But there will likely be chaos building up to that. The rifles and pistols and automatic weapons will come out. We're heading towards civil war."

Juan Guaidó, recognised by more than 50 countries as the interim president, declared a "state of alarm" on Monday after four days of nationwide blackouts.

He said that 17 people had died from hospital equipment failing, describing their deaths as "murder".

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.Credit:Bloomberg

Nicolás Maduro, the sitting president, blamed the largest blackout in Venezuela's modern history on a US-orchestrated cyber attack.

But one veteran of Corpoelec, the state electric company, said the blackouts were due to a lack of equipment, poor maintenance, and staff fleeing the country.

Machillanda said he believed US intervention could come, but not before the country tears itself apart.

Having served as Hugo Chávez's military adviser in the early days of his presidency he was asked, earlier this year, to assist Guaidó. He turned him down, dismissing the 35-year-old as "naive" and simplistic.

Guaidó and his US allies boast about the number of soldiers who have abandoned Mr Maduro: almost 600, according to Colombia's immigration ministry.

Yet Machillanda described them as low-ranking "drops of water" in a military machine 123,000-strong.

"I still go to the Turkish baths inside Fuerte Tiuna," he said, referring to Venezuela's most important military barracks. "What I hear there disgusts me. The generals – they are not soldiers. All they talk about is their business interests: I control a shoe factory, I control a clothes factory.

"Do you really think they'll give that up?"

He said soldiers were terrified of the consequences of rebellion, with Cuban military intelligence penetrating every level of the armed forces and spies within the ranks monitoring their colleagues for signs of dissent.

Telegraph, London

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