More than half a million soldiers and civilian militia members took to the streets of Venezuela over May 20 and 21 to defend their national sovereignty amid rumours of international intervention and a potential coup, Venezuela Analysis said on May 23.
The drills featured troops, military boats and planes deployed to seven coastal states in Venezuela. They came after President Nicolas Maduro called on the military to rally around the defence of the country's constitution in the face of foreign aggression.
Maduro said that “the decision to combat and defend this land at the cost of our own lives” should send a “very clear message to the empires of the world.
“The people of Venezuela is the only owner of this land, never again will it be somebody's slave or colony.”
During the exercises, Venezuelan Defence Minister Padrino Lopez also called on Venezuelans to sign up to the militia set up by former President Hugo Chavez in 2007 as a civilian-led armed body parallel to the army. General Cesar Vega said there were currently 340,000 militia members operating throughout the country.