Skip to content
The Editors

Venezuela Gets a New Comandante

Did the military just take over the country with the world's largest oil reserves?
Men in full.

Men in full.

Photographer: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

President Nicolas Maduro's decision last week to put Venezuela's armed forces in charge of food and other basic goods won't ease the average Venezuelan's growing hunger pangs. But it's a frightening expansion of military control and raises the question of whether the government of the country with the world's largest oil reserves has fallen to a coup.

Sound like hyperbole? Consider Maduro's diktat announcing the change, in which he says that all ministries, ministers and institutions of the state "are henceforth at the command and the absolute subordination" of him and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez. Regardless of whether this agreement is forced or by mutual consent, Maduro must be shown that there are consequences to his heedless rule.