Venezuela's army, about 160,000 strong, controls the mineral-rich Arco Minero del Orinoco, and some of its top officers are also serving as executives of Venezuela's state-run oil company.
And as the collapse of social services has caused water supplies to dwindle, the military has recently hijacked what spigots remain, transforming access to water into a luxury that most Venezuelans can't afford. Many of the pipes and reservoirs have fallen into disarray – or seen their supplies drastically diminished – the military is stepping in to take charge of the "equitable distribution" of what little remains. As part of the government's socialist policy program, the cost of water is supposed to be subsidized – at least in theory. But with the state-owned water utility, known as Hidrocapital, has effectively abdicated its responsibilities, the military is increasingly stepping in, commandeering trucks and vans used by private individuals who have tried to step in and service parts of the capital, according to a Bloomberg report.