Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, shakes hands with Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez as he arrives to  commemorate the Battle of San Felix,  April 11, 2017.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, shakes hands with Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez as he arrives to commemorate the Battle of San Felix, April 11, 2017.

Venezuela's defense minister told socialist President Nicolas Maduro to step down last month, and said he would offer his own resignation if he did not, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing an anonymous U.S. intelligence official.

Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lope
Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez takes part in a ceremony to kick off the distribution voting materials to be used in the presidential elections, at Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas, May 15, 2018.

Both Maduro and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez are still in office. Maduro is set to be sworn in for a second six-year term on Thursday, though several countries in the region have warned him not to take office, calling his May 2018 re-election vote a sham.

Discontent within the military's ranks has grown as Venezuela's economic collapse has deepened, prompting millions to migrate. Security forces tortured dozens of military personnel accused of subversion last year, according to human rights groups, and detentions for desertion have increased.

A U.S. government source told Reuters the government believes reports that Padrino threatened to resign if Maduro did not depart are credible.

"Nobody (in the U.S. government) would be surprised if (Padrino) stepped back," the source added.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.