Guaidó has the support of the vast majority of people, who suffer daily because of severe shortages of medicine, electricity, water and gas – even though they are living in a country with the largest energy reserves in the world. Polls show that over 80% want change. Nonetheless, Maduro was recently re-elected to a six-year term in power, in an election condemned for widespread irregularities.

Military support is no small thing in a country where men in uniform control everything from the state oil firm, PDVSA, to the business of importing medicines and subsidised food; from the ports and airports to the country’s deposits of gold, diamonds, coltan, iron and aluminium.

The military also control the financial system, tax collection, and obviously the arms deals. They maintain close ties with the main weapons suppliers, such as Russia, China and Iran.