CARACAS, May 2 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is facing enormous pressure to step down both from within the country and from the United States, but the former union leader has held on to power and on Tuesday weathered an uprising involving military officers.
Three key Venezuelan officials have told opposition leader Juan Guaido that Maduro should resign and usher in a transition government, according to U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton.
The three officials are Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and Presidential Security Chief Ivan Hernandez.
The government has dismissed the idea that top officials could break with Maduro. Reuters was unable to immediately obtain comment from them, and Venezuela's information ministry, which fields press inquiries, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The following are basic facts about them.
A former bodyguard turned top judicial authority, Moreno since being named to the Supreme Court in 2017 has shown himself to be a staunch Maduro loyalist by repeatedly ruling in favor of the Socialist Party and neutralizing the opposition-led congress.
Under his leadership, the court has effectively neutered the country's legislature by declaring it to be in "disobedience," helping ensure that Maduro was shielded from a 2015 landslide election that gave the opposition a broad legislative majority.
A 2017 Reuters investigation found that Moreno, by leveraging personal connections and handling politically sensitive cases that other lawyers and judges rejected, had endeared himself to Maduro and fellow members of the late Hugo Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution."
In his rise to Venezuela's top judicial perch, Moreno left behind a past that includes allegations he participated in extortion and influence-peddling rackets and his arrest in 1989 on suspicions of killing a teenager, according to government documents and people familiar with his history.
Padrino has been chief of Venezuela's armed forces and defense minister since 2014, a year after Maduro took over after Chavez's death, making him one of the current ministers who have spent the most time in their positions.
Padrino, 55, worked his way up the ranks of the military after leaving Venezuela's Military Academy in 1984 to enter the infantry, according to a biography on the defense ministry's website. He has held posts including Second Commander and Chief of the General Staff and Joint Chief of Staff of the Central Integral Defense Strategic Region.
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Padrino in September 2018, describing him as a member of Maduro's "inner circle."
Hernandez is the director of the state military intelligence unit (DGCIM), which Maduro has tasked with maintaining control over the armed forces. Under Hernandez, the DGCIM has detained dozens of military officers suspected of sympathizing with the opposition and it has been accused by rights groups of human rights abuses.
Since 2014, Hernandez has also held the dual role as head of Maduro's presidential guard.
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Hernandez in February and said the DGCIM had tortured Venezuelan military members suspected of plotting against the government, along with their family members. (Reporting by Caracas newsroom Editing by James Dalgleish)