Venezuela’s Guaido makes new bid to rally military support

Opposition leader Juan Guaido will make a fresh bid on Saturday to rally Venezuela’s armed forces behind him with protests at military bases in the crisis-hit country.

The protest call by Guaido — the head of the National Assembly legislature, who is recognised as interim president by more than 50 countries — comes just days after he urged the military to rise up against the socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

“Peacefully, civically… we are going to deliver a simple document, a proclamation to the Armed Forces to listen to the Venezuelan call, that a rapid transition is possible to produce free elections,” Guaido told a press conference in Caracas.

A small group of military personnel heeded Guaido’s call to rise up on Tuesday, but the effort petered out, triggering two days of protests against the government in which four people were killed and several hundred injured.

Venezuela’s military leadership has since reiterated its support for the government, and Maduro is standing his ground.

The country’s attorney general Tarek William Saab said Friday that 18 arrest warrants had been issued for “civilian and military conspirators” following the failed uprising, with lieutenant colonels among the uniformed personnel being sought.

Tensions in Venezuela have soared since Guaido, the 35-year-old head of the National Assembly, invoked the constitution to declare himself acting president on January 23, claiming Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.

The standoff has drawn in major world powers, with the US throwing its support behind Guaido and Russia and China backing Maduro.

The United States has imposed tough sanctions and Trump has refused to take the threat of military action off the table, in an intensifying campaign to drive Maduro out.

But President Donald Trump adopted a strikingly conciliatory tone after a more than hour-long conversation with Vladimir Putin on the Venezuela crisis, describing the Friday talks with his Russian counterpart as “very positive.”

‘People are starving’

“He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela,” Trump said of Putin.

“And I feel the same way. We want to get some humanitarian aid. Right now people are starving.”

Venezuela has suffered five years of recession marked by shortages of basic necessities as well as failing public services, including water, electricity and transport.

Trump’s tone came in stark contrast to that of his top advisers, in particular Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who charged this week that Maduro had been poised to flee to Cuba, but was talked out of it by the Russians.

US-Russian tensions have spiked over the months-long standoff in Venezuela, and the Kremlin’s assessment of the Trump-Putin call differed substantially from that coming from the White House.

“Interference in internal affairs, attempts to change the leadership in Caracas through force, undermine the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict,” said a Russian statement.

“Vladimir Putin stated that only the Venezuelan people have the right to decide the future of their country,” it added.

The United States is insisting Maduro’s days are numbered, but experts say its options for breaking the stalemate are limited, and that Washington may have overestimated the opposition leader’s strength.

© Agence France-Presse

Alexander Martinez
Alexander Martinez
Alexander Martínez Pérez runs the AFP's Venezuela bureau
Advertisting

Senior SANDF colonel involved in an alleged business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal

AU pushes the frontiers of transitional justice

Now these important policy developments must be implemented

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.