Venezuela military to play central power broker

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FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2011 file photo, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks to soldiers in La Fria, Venezuela. With Chavez now knocked low by a stubborn cancer and the future of his government in question, the armed forces may not be so prepared to hold the country together this time. A former military officer and several experts said the president’s five-week absence has created a gaping hole at the top of the chain of command, one that the governing duo of Vice President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello has proven incapable of filling. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — In a country riven by political strife, Venezuela's military often has served as the arbiter of power. It has launched coups and frustrated them and dispatched soldiers to guarantee stability, distributing food, fighting crime and securing oil fields.

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