Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Tuesday he had begun the “final phase” of his plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro, calling on Venezuelans and the military to back him to end Maduro’s “usurpation.” A Reuters journalist later saw security forces firing tear gas at Guaido and around 70 mostly young armed men in military uniform outside the La Carlota air force base in Caracas. Hundreds of civilians also joined the group.
But around two hours after Guaido tweeted his announcement, there was no sign of any other military activity, and the government dismissed any suggestion of an insurrection.
“We reject this coup movement, which aims to fill the country with violence,” said Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino.
Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress opened its first session of the year Saturday, installing a fresh-faced leader who struck a defiant tone and vowed to take up the battle against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Juan Guaido, 35, assumes the presidency of a National Assembly stripped of power by Maduro, whose government is blamed for leading the once-wealthy oil nation into a historic political and humanitarian crisis. Speaking to legislators, Guaido named off several opposition politicians and opponents of Maduro’s government who have been jailed, driven into exile or killed. He said desperation has forced masses of citizens to flee abroad looking for work. “We are under an oppressive system,” he said. “It’s not just that — it is miserable.” Tall and youthful, Guaido represents the next generation of Venezuelan political opposition, taking up the assembly’s leadership following 74-year-old Omar Barboza. Guaido is an industrial engineer and former student leader from the same political party as Leopoldo Lopez, Venezuela’s most popular opposition leader under house arrest. Government opponents consider him a political prisoner. Guaido called Maduro a dictator whose legitimacy has run out. Venezuela is living a “dark but transitional” moment of its history, he said, adding that among its first acts congress will create a transitional body to restore constitutional order, but he offered no details.Most Popular Maduro, Guaido Meeting Ends Without Agreement Russia Accuses Washington of Seeking Regime Change In Venezuela Venezuela’s Government and Opposition to Reset Talks US-Backed Guaido Planning Tuesday’s Coup Attempt In Washington – Jorge Arreaza Venezuela’s Juan
US President Donald Trump says: “What’s happening in Venezuela is a disgrace. I just want to see Venezuela straightened out. I want the people to be safe. We’re going to take care of Venezuela. All options are on the table, every one — strong ones and the less than strong ones — and you know what I mean by strong.”
The Chinese naval medical ship, known as the “Peace Ark”, arrived on Saturday at the Venezuelan port of La Guaira for an eight-day period of “friendly visits” to the country. Chinese commander of the ship would visit military and political officials and inspect Venezuelan military and medical facilities.