CARACAS, Venezuela — Rolling out tanks, missiles and 100,000 men, Venezuela launched 10 days of military exercises Saturday, amid sky-high tensions over US sanctions slapped on officials accused of an opposition crackdown.
President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist, Cuban-allied government — struggling with sliding oil prices, the region’s highest inflation, desperate shortages and rising discontent — threw the spotlight on its Chinese amphibious tanks, Russian-built missiles and other military hardware.
“Congratulations to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, and to the people, for the joint exercises,” tweeted Maduro, who in two years time has alleged over a dozen coup bids against him and his government by the United States or local opposition members.
“Civilian-military union to keep having a Fatherland,” Maduro added. “And may our sacred fatherland never have a (US) imperial boot set foot on it. Long live Venezuela!”