Caracas – Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that the army will deploy “throughout the country” starting on Monday, two days before a new protest called for by the opposition.
The volatile country is now braced for what Maduro’s opponents vow will be the “mother of all protests” on Wednesday.
Maduro, who has faced violent protests over recent moves to tighten his grip on power, ordered the military to defend the leftist “Bolivarian revolution” launched by his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 1999.
“From the first reveille (on Monday morning), from the first rooster crow, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces will be in the streets… saying, ‘Long live the Bolivarian revolution,'” Maduro said Sunday night in a televised address.
State TV showed images of army units marching in the streets of Caracas as Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino watched.
But there was no sign of soldiers on patrol Monday morning in the capital.
Venezuela has been rocked by two weeks of unrest since Maduro’s camp moved to consolidate its control with a Supreme Court decision quashing the power of the opposition-majority legislature.
The court partly backtracked after an international outcry, but tension only rose further when authorities slapped a political ban on opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
Five people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the ensuing protests as riot police clashed with demonstrators.
Maduro’s opponents have called for a massive protest Wednesday, a national holiday that marks the start of Venezuela’s independence struggle in 1810.
The president’s supporters have called a counter-demonstration the same day.