Venezuela’s US backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó took to the streets with a small contingent of heavily armed troops early on Tuesday in an attempt to lead a military uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.
The Venezuelan foreign minister accused the US-backed opposition of planning Tuesday’s coup attempt in Washington, and said the government would work to keep the peace.
US National security adviser John Bolton said the US does not consider the situation a “coup” because it sees opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s leader.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez has warned that the army would resort to force if necessary, amid the ongoing US-backed coup attempt. Crowds of opposition supporters have been filmed moving towards the presidential palace in Caracas.
CBS reports: The early-morning rebellion seems to have only limited military support, but it was by far the most serious challenge yet to Maduro’s rule since Guaidó declared himself the country’s interim president in January.
The dramatic events began Tuesday when Guaidó, flanked by a few dozen national guardsmen and some armored vehicles, released a three-minute video filmed near a Caracas air base in which he called on civilians and others in the armed forces to join a final push to topple Maduro.
“The moment is now,” Guaido said in the video showing him accompanied by previously-detained activist Leopoldo Lopez.
Maduro’s military commanders dismissed what it called a “coup attempt” in social media posts and said the Venezuelan army remained loyal to the president.
According to RT: Maduro said that he had spoken to all senior military officers of the country’s armed forces, who assured him of their “total loyalty to the constitution and to the homeland.” He called on his supporters to mobilize in the face of the latest attempt by Guaido to seize power in Caracas.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez also said in a TV address that the national armed forces remained loyal to the government while adding that the those behind the “acts of violence” were partially defeated.
Earlier on Tuesday, Guaido posted a video filmed near an air base in Caracas, calling for decisive action against the Maduro government. Standing behind him were several people in military uniforms – apparently meant to be a living testament to the support of the army. The opposition leader has been struggling to win over the troops for months since declaring himself ‘interim president’ in January.
The Venezuelan government called the uniform-clad men “a small group of traitors” and promised to deal with the “attempted military coup.” The defense minister dismissed the defectors.