Soldiers who joined Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido take position during clashes with members of the Bolivarian National guard loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, in front of La Carlota base in Caracas on April 30, 2019.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido appeared alongside armed, uniformed men on Tuesday in his strongest call yet to the military to abandon President Nicolas Maduro, a day before planned mass protests aimed at toppling the socialist leader. Follow our live blog for all the latest.
The size of the protests will provide a test for Guaido, amid frustration among some supporters that Maduro remains in office more than three months after the opposition leader - who heads the National Assembly - invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing that Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the administration of President Donald Trump was prepared to take military action to stem the crisis in Venezuela.
"What we are seeing today in Venezuela is the will of the people to peacefully change the course of their country from one of despair to one of freedom and democracy", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted in an early reaction.
While some 50 nations, including the United States, have declared support for Guaido, Maduro still has powerful backers, notably Russian Federation and China.
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"Evidently, there is no such backing of the armed forces to Maduro's regime", he said, adding "It's great news for the entire country that the military of Venezuela's armed forces have taken this step".
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It also warned against any attempt to arrest Guaido, who has been left free to roam Venezuela and hold rallies.
"Cuba stands by the legitimate government of # Venezuela that is calmly and courageously facing the new coup attempt by the pro-imperialist right with the complicity of the # United States and the lackey governments of the region".
Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart believes that Cuba, Russia, Iran and China pose a "national security threat to the United States" through their presence in Venezuela.
But as the hours dragged on, opposition leader Juan Guaidó stood alone on a highway overpass with the same small cadre of soldiers with whom he launched a bold effort to spark a military uprising and settle Venezuela's agonizing power struggle.
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Pompeo said Tuesday that Maduro was set to leave the country for Cuba but apparently was talked out of it by the Russians.
"Nerves of steel!", Maduro said on Twitter.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly marched in Caracas in support of Guaido early on Tuesday, clashing with Maduro's supporters and riot police.
Trump threatened "a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions" on Cuba for its support of Maduro.
Maduro congratulated the armed forces for having "defeated this small group that meant to spread violence through putschist skirmishes".
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