Brazil's Military Keeps Dialogue Open With Venezuelan Generals

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian Armed Forces maintain an open communication channel with Venezuela’s military even though Brasilia no longer recognizes Nicolas Maduro as president of the neighboring Latin American country, according to Brazil’s Defense Minister.

“It’s always useful to maintain this channel,” General Fernando Azevedo said at an interview in his office. “It’s part of the military diplomacy.”

The dialogue is held through military attaches both countries maintain in Brasilia and Caracas, respectively, said Azevedo, a four-star Army general with experience in peace-keeping in Haiti. It has been useful for Brazil to gauge the loyalty of Venezuela’s top commanders to Maduro, despite international pressure for them to switch sides and close ranks behind National Assembly President Juan Guaido.

While Guaido has been recognized as the legitimate leader of Venezuela by the U.S. and most of Latin America, as well as several European countries and Japan, Maduro and his generals have dug in deep and showed no intention of giving up. Attempts to get humanitarian aid to starving Venezuelans through the borders of Brazil and Colombia have failed, even as international sanctions further squeeze an economy in shambles.

Azevedo said the channel with Maduro’s military could be used to convey political messages, but did not elaborate. Vice President Hamilton Mourao recently told the Financial Times Brazil could broker negotiations for Maduro’s exit through back-channel talks with officials in the Venezuelan regime.

While U.S. President Donald Trump has said all options are on the table to topple Maduro, Brazil has repeatedly ruled out backing a military intervention in Venezuela. “Brazil is in favor of diplomacy,” Azevedo said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.