Venezuelan Military Deserters Despair as Guaido Abandons Them
“I fell into a trap, and I have hit rock bottom. I lost everything: my family, my house. What I did wasn’t worth anything. I don’t see a way out”
Spanish – Military officers who left Venezuela and recognized Juan Guaido as interim president are facing severe difficulties abroad and claim to have been abandoned by the opposition leader.
A special report published on Telemundo’s website reviews the accounts of military deserters. It points out that Guaido’s promise of protection and guarantees were not fulfilled and that some of the deserters were even detained in the United States.
“I fell into a trap, and I have hit rock bottom. I lost everything: my family, my house. What I did wasn’t worth anything. I don’t see a way out,” declared army major Hugo Parra, who is being held at the Winn Correctional Center, one of the prisons designated by U.S. President Donald Trump to keep thousands of migrants.
“There was much hope, but Guaido and his people did not have the necessary support to annihilate the Maduro government. He should have been more forceful, more radical,” Parra said.
Parra was the highest-ranking official to acknowledge Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela; however, he is now adrift and awaiting a decision on his case in the United States.
The case of the major is just one of the hundreds of military personnel who fled the South American country under the promise that they would be protected by the interim government and received by countries that are friendly to democracy.
In Colombia, the government of Ivan Duque has been assisting several Venezuelan military deserters after they crossed the border at the time when Maduro was no longer recognized as the head of state.
The Panamanian Embassy in Caracas decided to take in a handful of military personnel who disassociated themselves from Chavismo to support Juan Guaido. Since then, they have been on tenterhooks for seven months due to threats to their safety.
The situation of these soldiers “could alienate potential allies inside and outside Venezuelan territory and discourage other soldiers from rising in the future,” said Jose A. Colina, a member of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard who is in exile in Miami and president of the group Politically Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile (Veppex), to Telemundo.
So far, the interim government has not expressed any position in these cases, and it is unclear whether it is taking the necessary steps to resolve the problem of military detainees in the United States.
As the cases of the “abandoned military personnel” came to light, we also learned that some cases had been successfully resolved.
On December 9, Guaido himself announced that officers of the armed forces who had deserted and were sheltered in the Panamanian embassy had “regained their freedom.” However, their fate was still unknown.
“I inform the country that the military patriots of April 30 are free after we successfully managed the release of the officials who were at the Panamanian Embassy,” wrote Guaido.
Once again, he expressed that we have to continue the struggle that we started last January to free those who, in his opinion, “are being tortured by the dictatorship.”
“We will go on, people of Venezuela, the international community, and the patriots of our military until we get freedom,” he concluded.
In April, the PanAm Post interviewed several military defectors who pointed out that everything that happened on February 23 with the attempt to bring in humanitarian aid was improvised.
They said that after leaving Venezuela, the Colombian government granted them refugee status and claimed that this status prevented them from working.
“The interim government of Juan Guaido has to be aware that we are leaving a job there and our families. We are not asking for maintenance; our priority is to be given a legal status so that we can work and bring back our families who are being persecuted and going hungry. So let them call for a solution to our situation because we are the ones who, if they decide, will give our lives for the cause, for freedom,” they said.