Maduro foe claims Venezuela presidency amid protests

25 January, 2019, 15:58 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Venezuelan soldiers call for coup against Maduro before being arrested

Scores of people are expected to take to the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday in a revitalized effort against President Nicolas Maduro and his government.

The vice president says the US joins other "freedom-loving" nations in recognizing the popularly elected National Assembly as the "last vestige of democracy" in Venezuela. These disruptions came alongside clashes between the National Guard and 27 of its members challenging the government of Nicolás Maduro.

In this January 11, 2019 photo, Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly delivers a speech during a public session with opposition members, at a street in Caracas, Venezuela.

Maduro, who lacks the military pedigree of his mentor and predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, has sought to shore up support from the armed forces by doling out key posts to top generals, including heading the PDVSA oil monopoly that is the source of virtually all of Venezuela's export earnings.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence released a video today in which he expressed support for Venezuela's opposition and Guaido.

The National Assembly has been powerless since then but Guaido, who became president of the body earlier this month, has risen to the challenge of taking on Maduro's iron grip on power.

Some two dozen officers attacked a National Guard outpost in the Caracas neighborhood of Cotiza, a km (0.6 mile) from the presidential Miraflores palace, leading to opposition demonstrations in nearby parts of Caracas.

Jorge Rodriguez said the mutinous soldiers had confessed to handing out some of the weapons they stole on Monday from a command depot to opposition activists "so they can carry out acts of violence, (cause) injuries and deaths during the protest".

"We will stay with you until democracy is restored", Pence said.


Hours later, the government-stacked Supreme Court said it was throwing out recent measures by the National Assembly that declared Maduro's presidency illegitimate, deepening a stand-off with the opposition-controlled legislature.

Most of the protests took place in socially disadvantaged areas and some involved the blocking of streets and burning of garbage, the Social Conflict Observatory said. "They only have interests, guts and the ambition to take Venezuela's oil, gas and gold".

On May 20-21, at least 11 officers in Venezuela's naval and air forces were detained in the central state of Aragua, home to some of the country's main military units.

Juan Guaido, president of the congress, said the incident is a sign of growing discontent within the armed forces.

The armed forces said a "small group of attackers" stole a batch of weapons from a command post in Petare, to the east of Caracas, and kidnapped four soldiers before heading to Cotiza.

Venezuela's vice president on Tuesday accused her United States counterpart of "openly calling for a coup d'etat" ahead of a mass street protest announced by the opposition for Wednesday. "We need a political change, because we don't have any water or electricity", said Angel Rivas, a 49-year-old labourer at the protest. "We want you out!", a group of residents chanted in the Catia...

Supreme Court Judge Juan Jose Mendoza asked the state prosecutor's office to determine whether the congress' leadership had committed crimes.

The United States, European Union, Organization of American States and several Latin American countries have not recognized the legitimacy of Maduro's second term, while China, Russia and Mexico have.

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