Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido appears to stage military-backed challenge to Maduro

«The Bolivarian Armed Forces stand firm in defense of the national constitution and its legitimate authorities,» he tweeted. He added: «We reject this coup-like movement that seeks to fill the country with violence. The pseudo political leaders that are heading the subversive movement have employed troops and police with war weapons in a street of the city to create terror.»

Guaido called for «nonviolent» action, but the video had the hallmarks of perhaps the most significant military challenge to Maduro’s power since Guaido – the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly – invoked constitutional powers, called Maduro a usurper and claimed the true mantle of leadership as Venezuela’s interim president.

His claim has since been recognised by nearly 60 nations, including the United States, which is vigorously backing him and has called on Venezuela’s military to reject Maduro.

On Tuesday — a day before a planned opposition protest – Guaido stood in front of Leopoldo Lopez, his political mentor and a longtime opposition figure who has been ordered under house arrest. His presence signified a defiant breaking of that order.

Leopoldo Lopez, centre, is seen surrounded by supporters outside La Carlota air base in Caracas.

Leopoldo Lopez, centre, is seen surrounded by supporters outside La Carlota air base in Caracas.Credit:AP

«Venezuela: the final phase for the end of usurpation has arrived, Operation Freedom,» Lopez tweeted. «I have been freed by military men of the constitution, and of President Guaido. I’m at the La Carlota Base. We have to mobilise. It’s time to conquer freedom. Strength and Faith»

The early-morning events set the stage for a potentially dramatic confrontation between Maduro’s government and Guaido’s backers.

«The assassin ultra-right joined this attempt, announcing its violent agenda months ago,» Jorge Rodriguez, Maduro’s communication minister, tweeted. «We call the people to stay in maximum alert with the glorious Bolivarian armed forces to overcome this coup attempt and preserve the peace.»

US Senator Marco Rubio, who has strongly backed Guaido, issued a call for the military to rise up: «This is the moment for those military officers in #Venezuela to fulfil their constitutional oath & defend the legitimate interim President @jguaido, in this effort to restore democracy,» he tweeted. «You can write history in the hours & days ahead.»

Washington Post




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