Venezuelan opposition enters ‘final phase’ against Maduro


Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó gave an address [HT; FP] at dawn, calling on citizens and the military to back him in the “final phase” of his efforts to end President Nicolás Maduro’s government. He urged Venezuelans to “immediately cover the streets,” Foreign Policy reports:

Standing in front of uniformed men near the La Carlota air force base, Guaidó, the head of the country’s National Assembly, who declared himself the country’s interim president on Jan. 10 told viewers that he is moving to end Maduro’s “usurpation” of power… As Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis escalates, both those fighting for Maduro’s exit and those loyal to him are seeking to seize the media narrative at this volatile moment.

 Guaidó urged supporters to take to the streets for “nonviolent” action, The Post adds:

● Maduro’s government denounced a “coup” attempt by a “reduced group of military officials,” and leaders called on supporters to surround the presidential palace.

● The military presence in Caracas increased, and tear gas was fired outside La Carlota military base.

● “Multiple Internet services” are currently being “restricted” in Venezuela, according to a monitoring service.

Spain’s caretaker government has called for a bloodless and peaceful transition to a democratic presidential election in Venezuela, AP adds.

Republican senator Marco Rubio, who has been a vocal supporter of attempts to topple Maduro, tweeted his support: “After years of suffering freedom is waiting for people of #Venezuela. Do not let them take this opportunity from you,” The Guardian reports. “Now is the moment to take to the streets in support of your legitimate constitutional government. Do not allow this moment to slip away. It may not come again,” Rubio added.

Russian military personnel flying into Venezuela in recent weeks were likely sent to ensure the nation’s sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles remain a credible deterrent to any U.S. military action against the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, according to defense analysts in Latin America, the U.S. and Russia, VOA’s Martin Arostegui adds:

Analysts say the Russian military contingent, which reportedly arrived in late March, included air defense specialists with the necessary skills to ensure the decade-old missiles can be kept operational in spite of Venezuela’s crumbling infrastructure and frequent power failures.

Supporters of the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, in the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) should have a place at the table in a democratic Venezuela, said US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, the Atlantic Council’s David A. Wemer reports:

Gabriela Ramirez, a former ombudswoman for the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice and supporter of Chavismo who broke with Maduro’s regime over his disrespect for the constitution, argued that there are many Chavez supporters who think Maduro “is twisting the foundations of Chavismo.”

She stressed that reaching out to this growing number of disaffected Chavistas is crucial as they “can serve as a bridge to some of the popular sectors that supported Chavismo.” Crucially, this outreach will need to explain “that this transition is not about retaliation.”

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