Venezuela starts military drills to stave off ‘foreign aggression’


Venezuela has launched two-day military drills aimed at staving off what the government says are acts of foreign aggression against the Latin American country.

The drills, in which half a million troops are said to be participating, kicked off on Friday amid political and economic crises pushing the country to the edge.

The Venezuelan opposition has said it is trying to legally oust President Nicolas Maduro, whom it blames for the country’s severe economic woes.

The opposition has also called on the country’s military to clarify its position. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has called on the army to choose whether it is “with the constitution or with Maduro.”

A series of severe economic misfortunes have turned into a political crisis in Venezuela.

The country faces critically low electricity supplies, and working days have been reduced to two days a week only amid the power shortage.

Hospitals are said to be in critical need of supplies; some medical devices are broken; and a number of hospitals are even said to be running without enough water to wash away blood from operation beds.

Maduro earlier declared a 60-day state of emergency to counter what he called a domestic and US push to topple his administration amid the economic problems.

The state of emergency has been rejected by the country’s opposition-led National Assembly.

Since 2014, Venezuela has been grappling with protests against Maduro, with the opposition vigorously pushing for a recall election.

Opponents have been calling for his removal more vociferously since last December, when the opposition gained control of the National Assembly in legislative elections.