Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Backers ‘failed to follow through’ in abortive uprising — Venezuelan opp leader

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said Monday that backers who had pledged support for his abortive uprising last week had “failed to follow through” to dislodge President Nicolas Maduro.

But that “doesn’t mean that they won’t do it soon,” Guaido told AFP in an interview in Caracas.

Guaido, recognised as interim president by more than 50 countries, said it was “obvious today, there is widespread discontent from which the armed forces aren’t immune.”

“There have been discussions… with civil and military officials who are ready to take the side of our constitution,” he said.

“I’m very optimistic given that we are very close to achieving change in Venezuela.”

The 35-year-old National Assembly chief has branded Maduro a usurper over his controversial re-election last year, and in January declared himself acting president, plunging Venezuela into a political crisis that deepened its already grave economic woes.

But Maduro has held firm, bolstered by the continued support of the powerful armed forces.

Guaido, however, expressed the hope that the army would eventually come on board.

“We are waiting for many more to join in expressing their discontent and to participate in ‘Operation Freedom,'” he said.

Of those that did, 25 soldiers sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy later in the day.

“Today all that needs to happen is for the armed forces and certain [public sector] employees to overcome their fear,” said Guaido.

Maduro was getting “weaker and weaker” after years of protests against his regime, Guaido said, painting a picture of a leader surrounded by the last vestige of support in his Miraflores presidential palace.

“They say that Maduro is in Miraflores, but they also say that he’s in a bunker with a main security ring composed of Cubans and a second ring made up of soldiers from the Casa Militar,” Guaido said, referring to Venezuela’s elite presidential protection corps.

“He no longer trusts even in his high command, he doesn’t even have any trust in his environment.”

Protest ‘fulfilled’

The attempted uprising set off two days of violent clashes between security forces and protesters that left five people dead, dozens injured and more than 233 arrested.

Authorities have also issued 18 arrest warrants against “civilians and military plotters,” according to Attorney General Tarek William Saab.

Guaido has tried to keep up the pressure with massive street protests, but his latest call for demonstrations on Saturday drew only several hundred people.

He rejected suggestions that his opposition movement was flatlining, however.

“On Saturday, I think the protest was fulfilled. A key goal for us was to redirect it toward non-violence,” he said.

Maduro, meanwhile, appeared at a military exercise on Saturday with Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino, who top US officials had said was in on the attempted uprising but backed out.

“I told the generals and admirals yesterday: loyalty, I want an active loyalty,” Maduro said in a speech to some 5 000 troops that was broadcast nationally on radio and television.

Tensions in Venezuela have soared since Guaido invoked the constitution to declare himself acting president.

As major world powers have been drawn in, the US has thrown its support behind Guaido, while China and Russia have backed Maduro.

Washington has repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table,” including military intervention in Venezuela to help Guaido oust Maduro.

Without using such antagonistic language, Guaido said there could be a case to seek “foreign co-operation to overcome the unprecedented crisis Venezuela is going through.”

Asked about military intervention, he said only that it was a “controversial option.”

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Guillaume Decamme
Guillaume Decamme
Journalist. Director of Agence France-Presse in Caracas.
Alexander Martinez
Alexander Martinez
Alexander Martínez Pérez runs the AFP's Venezuela bureau

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa breaking more temperature records than expected

The country’s climate is becoming ‘more extreme’ as temperature records are broken

More top stories

South Africa breaking more temperature records than expected

The country’s climate is becoming ‘more extreme’ as temperature records are broken

Environmentalists are trying to save South Africa’s obscure endangered species

Scientists are digging for De Winton’s golden moles, working on the mystery of the riverine rabbit and using mesh mattresses to save the unique Knysna seahorse

Shadow states infest Africa’s democracies

Two recent reports show evidence that democracy in Africa is being threatened by private power networks

The West owes Africa $100bn (at least) for climate recovery

In fewer than three days, a US citizen emits as much carbon as a person from Chad or Niger does in one year. Such is the asymmetry in culpability for climate change.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×