Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he will expand the number of civilians involved in armed militias, providing guns to as many as 400,000 loyalists.
The Bolivarian militias, currently at approximately 100,000, were created by the late Hugo Chavez to assist the armed forces in the defense of his revolution from external and domestic attacks.
Speaking to thousands of militia members dressed in beige uniforms gathered in front of the presidential palace, Maduro said that vision remains relevant as Venezuela continues to face "imperialist aggression."
"A gun for every militiaman!" he cried.
Maduro's government claims foreign-backed opposition leaders are fomenting violence in an attempt to remove him from power. The opposition denies that assertion, saying it is Maduro himself who is responsible for Venezuela's woes, including triple-digit inflation, rising crime and food shortages.
They also blame Maduro for ordering security forces to use tear gas against protesters and failing to stop pro-government armed groups from attacking demonstrators.