Friday, May 24, 2019

Venezuela’s interim president leads an apparent coup

The Trump administration has thrown its support behind an apparent coup in Venezuela, where supporters of National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó have taken to the streets in an attempt to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed support for Guaidó’s efforts on Tuesday morning; “Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad,” Pompeo wrote in a tweet. “The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated.”

The U.S. has imposed heavy sanctions on Venezuela, and President Trump has come close to threatening military action in the country, saying back in February that “all options” were on the table. Guaidó, with the backing of countries including the U.S. and much of Europe, invoked Venezuela’s constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, claiming that Maduro’s election in 2018 was illegitimate.

Earlier today, Guaidó and his supporters freed activist Leopoldo Lopez, the founder Guaidó’s political party Voluntad Popular, from house arrest. Lopez and Guaidó had called for supporters to head to La Carlota, a military base in the eastern part of Caracas.

Guaidó and Lopez had been calling for protests, which Guaidó said would be “the largest march in Venezuela’s history.” In a series of tweets, Guaidó said the plan to end Maduro’s “usurpation” was entering its “final phase” and called on the country’s armed forces to join him.

“The people of Venezuela began the end of the usurpation,” Guaidó tweeted. “In this moment I find myself with the principal units of our Armed Forces initiating the final phase of Operation Liberty.”

“I want to tell the Venezuelan people: This is the moment to take to the streets and accompany these patriotic soldiers,” Lopez, who had been detained since 2014 for leading anti-government protests, said while marching in the streets with Guaidó, according to The Associated Press.

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