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Venezuelan military defector: I will continue to fight for our freedom news



CUCTUA, COLOMBIA – Ricardo * sat in a Colombian migration office on the stairs dressed in his green Venezuelan military uniforms. He remembered his childhood when he saw the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez making charismatic speeches on television.

Ricardo said Chavez inspired him to join the forces.

A member of the Venezuelan National Guard, Ricardo, fell on Saturday in a dispute that he had planned for days with a colleague, leaving the military and their homeland behind.

"I was full of adrenaline, nerves and fear, but I was greeted by Colombia with open arms, and now I will continue to fight for Venezuela's freedom," said Ricardo, 23, who was only six months in office after four years of training ,

Saturday's attempts to deliver US humanitarian aid to Venezuela through US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido became violent in the Colombian border town of Cucuta Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sent military heres to block the border. Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas, injuring more than 300 people.

"They would threaten us If we were not part of their political party, they would imprison us," Ricardo said of the Venezuelan government

After months of emotion and frustration in the military, the young soldier saw the border operation as an escape route, too if it meant leaving behind his young fiancé and his four-month-old child.

"I did not have a chance to make that decision before, and another colleague and I worked through the days we planned to do, taking the risk of crossing the border and recognizing Guaido as our rightful leader." He said in a migration center in Cucuta, where dozens of defectors in their uniforms were officially registered by the authorities.

Worry for Maduro?

According to Colombian immigration officials, over 560 members of the Venezuelan armed forces have overflowed into Colombia, but analysts say that up to breaches in the higher ranks, such overruns on Maduro are unlikely to have any impact.

The Venezuelan military has repeatedly reiterated its support for Maduro. Last weekend, as the US-backed opposition plotted its efforts to bring aid across the border, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrinos said the opposition leaders would have to bypass "our corpses" to install a new government.

The military unit is an important element for the transition in Venezuela. The dissidents will help consolidate the new government's hierarchy and show how torn the regime is, "said Sergio Guarin, director of the post-conflict program in Fundacion Ideas para la Paz, a Colombian think tank for peace and security Conflict.

"As long as the power ring near Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrinos is not reflected, dissidentism will not be the break point of the Maduro government," he told Al Jazeera.

A Venezuelan National Guard fires a copy of a document regarding Amnesty Law for Military, Police and Civilian Persons [Ronald Pena/El Pitazo/Reuters] [19659015] Sergio Guzman, Director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consultancy, added that what happened was important from a moral point of view is, but in the view of Maduro, who loses his influence on the power, is insignificant 19659004] "Vierhu A man from an army of 200,000 is practically nothing, "Guzman told Al Jazeera.

"It's something that affects morality because no military wants to have defectors, but it's not critical in terms of change," he added.

"Many people expected a domino effect, and I think that this is not a domino of 400 pieces, it is a domino of 200,000 pieces and 400 men and women on the arms see a completely unexpected side The future gives hope that it there could be many more, but that did not manifest itself. "

" I was a Chavista "

Daniel *, another defector, said he was the first to come to Colombia last weekend.

He came through an illegal trench walk near the Simon Bolivar Bridge, where most of the violence unfolded on Saturday.

"I drove a military vehicle, I gave it up and went with my colleague when the confrontation took place on the bridge," said the 31-year-old National Guard. "I did not cross the bridge because I thought that armed groups ruled by the government could have lynched me-those who throw gasoline bombs and shoot at people-that's why I've crossed the ditch," he said he. [19659004WhichRicardountsupportedthisocialistassociationwithChavez

"Honestly, I was Chavista, I voted for Hugo Chavez and believed in his government project," said Daniel, who served in the military for 12 years. He followed in his father's footsteps.

"But since his death, the country's situation has changed a lot and it quickly became clear that the project is nowhere to go," he added. "I never believed in Maduro, even if he talks like that, he says such stupid things and he was not the one who took control of the land."

Boots belonging to the surviving members of the Venezuelan National Guard dry where several dozen defectors of the Venezuelan forces sleep in a shelter run by a priest in Cucuta, Colombia [Christine Armario / AP Photo]

Since his release, Daniel noted who grew up near the Colombian border, sure that his wife and child were moved to another city for their safety.

Maduro has denied that despite hyperinflation and lack of food and medicines, there is a humanitarian crisis in the country. More than three million people have fled since 2014.

"The situation in Venezuela has influenced me very much, or more importantly, my two-year-old son, we could not get any milk or diapers, we all had to go to the Colombian side," said Daniel. "It was hard to find in Venezuela, and if it could get it, it was too expensive."

Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month, has repeatedly called for military support and promised some amnesty. On Saturday, he praised those who have changed their allegiance.

"The guards and members of the armed forces who have decided to join our fight are not defectors, they have chosen to support themselves with the people and the Constitution! Welcome! The arrival of freedom and democracy in Venezuela is now unstoppable, "Guaido tweeted

However, some critics have described the actions of these men and women as cowardly.

"I do not see myself as a coward or as a defector, I see myself as someone who fights for the benefits of all Venezuelans – for what they all deserve," Daniel said.

Daniel knows that Venezuela will not improve overnight, but hopes that Maduro will soon "make the right decision" and Guaido will take over his country's rule

"Leave the government. Make the right decision and pass the power Guaido, "Daniel said in a message to Maduro. "Let the land be free, spend it before there is a bloodbath."

* Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual.

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