Venezuela: Juan Guaido Accused of Coup Bid
Members of the Venezuelan government say they are putting down a small coup attempt after opposition leader Juan Guaido announced he was in the “final phase” of ending President Nicolas Maduro’s rule.
He appeared in a video with uniformed men, saying he had military support.
Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president in January, called for more members of the military to help him end Nicolas Maduro’s “usurpation” of power.
However, military leaders appeared to be standing behind Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela’s defense minister appeared on TV to stress the point. However, pictures from Caracas show some soldiers aligning themselves with Juan Guaido’s supporters.
Nicolas Maduro’s detractors hope the military will change its allegiance as resentment grows following years of hyperinflation, power cuts, food and medicine shortages.
So far, the armed forces have stood by President Maduro – despite dozens of countries, including the UK, the US and most of Latin America, recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
As a result, John Bolton, the US national security adviser, said what was taking place in Venezuela was not a coup, but a legitimate leader trying to take control.
Protesters supporting both sides have gathered at different points in the capital, Caracas.
There are running clashes between Juan Guaido’s supporters and armed military vehicles. Protesters were also seen throwing rocks, but being repelled by tear gas and water cannon.
TV cameras also caught the moment armored vehicles drove into a crowd but it is unclear if there were any injuries.
According to El Universal newspaper, at least 37 people had been injured across Caracas.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the uprising by some members of the military had been “partly defeated”, but warned of possible bloodshed.
He warned: “The weapons of the republic are here to defend the nation’s sovereignty and independence.”
Vladimir Padrino also revealed one soldier had suffered a bullet wound.
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A three-minute video by Juan Guaido was published on April 30. In the video, he announced he had the support of “brave soldiers” in Caracas.
“The National Armed Forces have taken the correct decision… they are guaranteed to be on the right side of history,” he said.
Juan Guaido was filmed alongside another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who has been under house arrest since being found guilty of inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.
Leopoldo Lopez, who leads the Popular Will party of which Juan Guaido is a member, said he had been freed by members of the military.
He went on to urge Venezuelans to join them on the streets.
Meanwhile, Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed he, his wife Lilian Tintori and their daughter had entered Chile’s embassy in Caracas to seek protection.
Juan Guaido, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has been calling on the military to back him ever since he declared himself interim president.
He argues that President Nicolas Maduro is a “usurper” because he was re-elected in polls that had been widely disputed.
The video appeared to have been recorded at dawn in or near La Carlota air force base in Caracas.