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

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

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

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Medical aids blame external costs as fees increase beyond inflation

Medical aid is becoming more of a luxury for many South Africans, and it’s not about to get any better

Mahikeng compounds its mess

The ailing town that wasted R2-billion appoints a municipal manager rated ‘basic’, the lowest level

More top stories

Parliament owes South Africa an apology on state capture —...

The speaker told the Zondo commission she doesn’t know why the legislature woke up to state capture so late, but believes this won’t happen again

Cape Town fire ‘largely contained’, evacuation orders remain in place

Authorities confirmed the fire had been largely contained by early Monday afternoon, although reports suggest the fire had jumped the road near Tafelberg Drive

Zondo says break-in will not intimidate commission

The deputy chief justice said it was not clear if the burglary and a recent shooting were more than criminality, but vowed no one would deter the inquiry

European heavyweights face criticism over ‘cynical’ Super League

The 12 founding clubs of the breakaway competition have faced backlash from the football community
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…