Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro showed muscle this Saturday by rallying thousands of supporters in Caracas, including hundreds of militants and members of the Armed Forces, in the midst of the political crisis the country is going through due to lingering doubts about the legitimacy of its new mandate
Maduro presided over an event at Paseo los Próceres, a huge square dedicated to the heroes of the emancipation of Venezuela, to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the return to power of his late political mentor, President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), after that he was deposed for a period of hours in 2002.
"April 13, 2002 is a day that our generation will not forget," said Maduro surrounded by military, supporters, war tanks and anti-aircraft defense shuttles.
But the act on Saturday also helped the Chavez base to reiterate its support for Maduro, in low hours since a large part of the international community questioned the legitimacy of the 6-year term he swore last January.
The opposition does not recognize the new mandate of the Chavez leader and the head of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, proclaimed almost three months ago an interim government that already recognize more than 50 countries.
"The fact that we are facing wars does not mean that we are not knee-deep with the revolution," Reymar Jiménez, one of the more than two million fighters of the Venezuelan militia, told Efe, referring to the alleged sabotage against the public services and the economy of the country.
"We are not going to give up so easily," added the 26-year-old woman, who traveled almost two hours by bus from Valles del Tuy, in the central state of Miranda -nearly to Caracas- to publicly express her support for Maduro.
Jimenez recalled that last March a series of blackouts, which he blamed on sabotages against the electrical system, left the country in darkness and paralyzed practically all of Venezuela.
He said that in his neighborhood the militia organized the neighbors to light the streets with lighters made with oil and cheap Venezuelan fuels.
The young Robelis Sandoval, 25, told Efe that he attended the rally "because of the president's call" and because he is "fascinated" by the militia, a body of which he is already a part.
Sandoval says he does not pay attention to the pressing Venezuelan crisis and focuses on making his contribution to lift the country.
"We are all going through the same circumstance, but what are we going to do? Forward with the president," he emphasized.
Taking the floor, Maduro ordered the same day to the militiamen to dedicate themselves to the production of food, scarce as almost everything in Venezuela.
"At this moment I proceed to give the order to the 51,743 popular units of integral defense to dedicate themselves to production throughout the national territory, to see green a productive miracle," said the president.
"Rifle on the shoulder, ready to defend the homeland, and opening the furrow to sow the seed and produce food for the community, for the people," he added.
Venezuela, the country with the largest proven oil reserves on the planet, is going through a pressing economic crisis that results in widespread shortages and hyperinflation.
The parliament, which controls antichavism, said on Wednesday that Venezuela's economy lost 55.17% of its size between 2013 and 2018, when Maduro ruled the country for the first time.
According to the report of the Legislative, the increasing fall of oil production is the main factor that "has to do" with the marked contraction of the Venezuelan economy.
Last week, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Venezuela is a founding member, reported that the country's pumping fell by 28.3% in March compared to February, reaching only 732,000 barrels per day.
Venezuela produced more than three million barrels a day in 1999, when Chávez ascended to power.
Maduro avoided mentioning the oil industry today, from which the country obtains almost 96% of its income, but he did hope to achieve in the short term an economic "miracle" protected by the productive work of the militia.
And according to the commander of the corps, General Carlos Leal Tellería, the militiamen will comply with Maduro's order because they are "willing to do anything".
"Even to lose his life if necessary," he said.