BRASILIA (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s attempt to oust Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro was not the best decision and likely premature, Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao told reporters on Thursday.
Mourao, a retired army general, said in a radio interview that he thinks there are cracks emerging in the lower ranks of the Venezuelan armed forces, but not among the commanders that Guaido had hoped would abandon Maduro and join the opposition.
“We don’t see light at the end of the tunnel for Venezuela,” he said on Radio Gaucha. He said Brasilia was worried that the crisis in its neighbor could spark a civil war.
His view contrasts with that of President Jair Bolsonaro, who said on Wednesday that the unsuccessful uprising called by Guaido was not a defeat and that the Brazilian government had information on cracks in the Venezuelan military that could still lead to the collapse of Maduro’s leftist government.
Bolsonaro’s top security adviser had said on Tuesday that military support for Guaido appeared to be weak and it was not clear whether military officers were abandoning Maduro.
Bolsonaro’s right-wing government threw its support behind Guaido’s push to oust Maduro on Tuesday and called on other nations to do the same.
His vice president, however, has from the start cautioned against entering a conflict with the Venezuelan armed forces, whose high command he is familiar with, as he served as a Brazilian military attache in Caracas.
Mourao has contradicted Bolsonaro on a series of issues, from a woman’s right to abortion to moving Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem, laying bare rifts between the more pragmatic military ministers and the ideologically right-wing members of the cabinet.
Mourao has opposed any consideration of a military intervention in Venezuela to oust Maduro, a position that Bolsonaro has now adopted, though during a visit to the White House last month he said he would not rule out military action.
The Brazilian government has made clear this week that it would not allow other nations to use its territory for any potential intervention in Venezuela.
Mourao said in the radio interview that he expects Maduro to have Guaido arrested and the opposition leader must now be going “from house to house” in hiding.
Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish