As Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro launches his second term challenged by a re-energized opposition movement, experts say his hold on power relies more than ever on military backing.
Maduro has granted bonuses to rank-and-file soldiers and placed generals in key government posts, including at the helm of the state-run oil company, seeking to cement their support.
But with Venezuela sliding into economic collapse, there have been signs in recent years of fraying in military support:
On Monday, authorities reported detaining a small group of National Guard soldiers who stormed a police station in the capital of Caracas before dawn. The soldiers captured a captain and used two vehicles to steal a cache of weapons from another outpost, officials said.
The heavily armed national guardsmen posted videos on social media saying they no longer recognized Maduro’s legitimacy as president.
Officials said they quickly made 27 arrests and recovered the weapons. They blamed “dark interests of the extreme right” in buying the soldiers’ loyalty.