Officials for Venezuela President Maduro say government fighting 'coup' as opposition calls for uprising

Officials for Venezuela President Maduro say government fighting 'coup' as opposition calls for uprising
Officials for Venezuela President Maduro say government fighting 'coup' as opposition calls for uprising  

Officials loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said they were confronting a "coup" on Tuesday, as opposition leader Juan Guaido called for a popular uprising and claimed the support of the military.

In a video message, Guaido said he had begun the "final phase" of his plan to oust Maduro and he called on the military to support him in his bid to end Maduro's "usurpation.".

Guaido's surprise move could be a make-or-break moment in the long-simmering struggle for power inside Venezuela, with the potential for violence and chaos extremely high.

"The moment is now," Guaido said in the three-minute video taken at a Caracas air base, where he was surrounded by soldiers and accompanied by detained activist Leopoldo Lopez, his political mentor.

Lopez had been under house arrest, but he said Tuesday that military officials freed him and allowed him to join Guaido.

"I have been released by the military to the order of the Constitution and of President Guaidó. I'm at the La Carlota Base," Lopez tweeted. "All to mobilize."

In response, Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela's information minister, declared that Maduro's forces were "currently confronting and deactivating a small group of traitor military personnel" who were at a military base to "promote a coup d'état."

In a message on Twitter, Rodriguez predicted the uprising would be quashed. "We call on the people to stay on high alert, along with the glorious Bolivarian National armed forces, to defeat the coup attempt and preserve the peace," he said. "We will win."

Venezuela's socialist party leader, Diosdado Cabello, called on government supporters to gather at the presidential palace to defend Maduro from what he called a small uprising of military soldiers backed by the U.S.

Gauido has staunch support from President Donald Trump's administration in his bid to oust Maduro, and top U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, quickly voiced support for Gauido's move to oust Maduro.

"We are with you!" Pence tweeted Tuesday morning. "America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored. Vayan con dios! #FreeVenezuela"

Venezuela experts said this was a pivotal moment for the country and could either lead to greater democracy or greater repression.

"This is a sort of make or break moment," said Cynthia J. Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center. a Washington-based think tank.

"This is either the beginning of the end of the regime, if it goes well," she said. "And if it goes poorly, then Guaido and all other members of the opposition are going to have to go into hiding or risk mass arrest."

Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott called on President Donald Trump to send U.S. military forces to the region, in place to support Guaido.

"President Trump should immediately position American military assets to be ready to deliver aid to the people and defend freedom and democracy as well as U.S. national security interests in our hemisphere," Scott said in a statement Friday. "Guaido and the people of Venezuela have taken this critical step. We cannot abandon them. Inaction is not an option."

Trump has denounced Maduro as illegitimate and his administration has slapped a series of crippling sanctions on his regime in an effort to squeeze the socialist leader from power.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump has been briefed on the developments in Venezuela and the White House is "monitoring the ongoing situation."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday called Maduro a "thug" and suggested that military leaders were looking for a way to defect. He tweeted his support for Gauido on Tuesday morning.

"Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad. The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy," Pompeo wrote on Twitter. "Democracy cannot be defeated."

Under Maduro's rule, Venezuela has suffered from a severe economic crisis, with rampant inflation and shortages of food and medicine. Opposition leaders in Venezuela said his re-election last May was rife with irregularities; some opposition candidates were barred from even running.

Arnson said the new Maduro-Gauido showdown could worsen an already difficult situation for the Venezuelan people.

"Conditions inside the country resemble that of a country at war," she said. "The country has already been suffering dramatic shortages of food, medicine (and) continued black outs of electricity that affect the availability of running water ... So the desire for change is very high."

Given that backdrop, she said Maduro will have a hard time reasserting control over the government.

Contributing: Associated Press

More: Liberal activists occupy Venezuelan embassy in Washington to oppose Trump policy

Like what you're reading? Download the USA TODAY app for more

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Officials for Venezuela President Maduro say government fighting 'coup' as opposition calls for uprising


More Related News

US policeman suggests Democratic lawmaker should be shot
US policeman suggests Democratic lawmaker should be shot

A Louisiana policeman was being investigated Monday for suggesting a liberal congresswoman should be shot, as President Donald Trump's tweets attacking Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers sparked a national uproar. The officer's Facebook post followed criticism that the president's incendiary rhetoric, which continued Monday with a new tweet about the four "very racist" and "not very smart" Democratic congresswomen, was bordering on incitement to violence. "This vile idiot needs a round.......and I don't mean the kind she used to serve," Charlie Rispoli, of the Gretna police department, wrote of former bartender Ocasio-Cortez, according to local media.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller
Former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony, like his report, promises an ink-blot test for partisans

House Democrats subpoenaed special counsel Robert Mueller, but Republicans are eager to ask what sparked the Russia probe

Iran announces arrests, death sentences as CIA spy ring busted
Iran announces arrests, death sentences as CIA spy ring busted

Iran arrested 17 suspects and sentenced some to death after dismantling a CIA spy ring, an official said Monday, as tensions soar between the Islamic republic and arch-enemy the United States. Security agencies "successfully dismantled a (CIA) spy network," the head of counter-intelligence at the Iranian intelligence ministry, whose identity was not revealed, told reporters in Tehran. Tehran has been at loggerheads with Washington and its allies since May 2018, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark 2015 deal putting curbs on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

'Our paychecks bounced': US workers in limbo as coalmines suddenly close

Blackjewel files for chapter 11 in a move critics say is increasingly used to avoid paying workers what they are owed A mother and daughter walk past a line of miners' cars down Highway 421 in Harlan, Kentucky. Many questions about Blackjewel's operations have not been answered. Photograph: Alton Strupp

Voice Of America Ignores Reasons For Trump
Voice Of America Ignores Reasons For Trump's Criticism Of Rep. Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar, but failed to include most of the reasons for the criticism.VOA wrote "Trump has found his latest target for acerbic ridicule - a hijab-wearing Muslim newcomer to Congress named Ilhan Omar."The news agency mentioned briefly only two instances of Omar's anti-Semitic remarks, referring to one as playing "off tropes questioning the influence of Jewish money in American politics."Trump began tweeting Sunday about how the "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen…should go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it's done."The tweets were likely aimed at Democratic Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Asia

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.