> But these largely young and under-paid troops, who are loyally serving their country are becoming disillusioned, as they are also getting crushed by a devastating economic crisis that has left millions of Venezuelans surviving on just a dollar or two a month.
Reuters reporter, Girish Gupta, has been talking to those in uniform.>> We've been speaking to soldiers from all ranks across the country, and they're incredibly demoralized. One soldier, a sergeant major, is not some grunt, but someone who's been serving for more than 20 years, told me he opens his fridge and there's nothing in it.
He told me that he used to when he joined the military, he used to buy furniture and clothes for his family. Now that Christmas bonus that he gets gets him a couple of cartons of eggs. It's just nothing for him.>> 172 members of the armed forces were detained in the first four months of this year for treason, desertion, and rebellion, according to internal military documents obtained by Reuters.
A significant uptick from 2017. Now as Venezuela gears up for what is being called a sham election, many see the military as their only hope.>> Now some government critics here in Venezuela have suggested that a milltary coup is the only way out. That might not be that likely to happen, but even US president Donald Trump suggested a military intervention last year.
His then Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said in February that there was possibility that a military coup might take place in Venezuela. A former senior CIA official told me that that was the US essentially pre-accepting a military coup here.>> Back in 2017, during fierce anti-government protests, Venezuela's national guard put their lives at risk for Maduro's government, fighting off protesters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails towards them.
In interviews with Reuters, some soldiers acknowledged being exhausted, impoverished, hungry, and even sympathetic towards protesters who face the same problems as they do.