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Venezuela activates local defence committees

VENEZUELA has activated local defence committees, incorporating the civilian population into national security plans amid heightened fears of US-backed intervention.

President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on Wednesday during the annual reorganisation of the country’s military leadership which saw many of Venezuela’s top brass keep their positions.

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez along with the heads of the Bolivarian Army and National Guard, Jesus Suarez and Richard Lopez, were kept in post, but the navy and air force chiefs were replaced.

The Committees for Security and Integral Defence are intended to tighten the links between the country’s armed forced and “revolutionary citizens.”

Under the plans, one delegate from each of Venezuela’s 50,000 communal councils will train with the country’s Bolivarian Militia Units and will fulfil one of the guidelines of the Homeland plan 2019-2025: “to promote the participation of patriots in the defence of institutions, territorial integrity and the right to peace.”

Venezuela was placed on alert after it was revealed that US President Donald Trump had planned a ground invasion of the country to exploit political tensions.

In a military ceremony last week Mr Maduro vowed to “defend the greatest right our homeland has had in all of its history, which is to live in peace.”

Mr Maduro has long warned of US plans to invade the country and seize control of its oil fields and many fear that Colombia could be used as a staging post for military intervention since the election of right-wing president-elect Ivan Duque.

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