by WorldTribune Staff, April 30, 2019
Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido has called on the nation’s armed forces to join with civilians in a final push to topple socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro.
Flanked by a few dozen national guardsmen and some armored crowd control vehicles in a three-minute video, Guaido called on the military to join in the “final phase of Operation Liberty,” Associated Press reported.
Guaido said the troops who had backed him were protecting Venezuela’s constitution and that in the coming hours he would release a list of top commanders supporting the uprising.
The video was filmed at La Carlota airbase near Caracas on April 30
Standing alongside Guaido was Leopoldo Lopez, the nation’s most-prominent opposition activist who has largely been silent and unseen since he was detained in 2014 for leading a previous round of anti-government unrest. Lopez said he had been released from house arrest by security forces adhering to an order from Guaido.
“I want to tell the Venezuelan people: This is the moment to take to the streets and accompany these patriotic soldiers,” Lopez declared.
Video footage has emerged showing troops loyal to Maduro mowing down anti-government protesters during clashes at the La Carlota base with the Venezuelan National Guard.
One person could be seen falling under the wheels as both vehicles drove off, leaving crowds to swarm around the injured person, the Daily Mail reported.
Troops backing Guaido had set up defensive positions around the base before Maduro’s forces arrived and opened fire with teargas followed by live rounds, according to witnesses.
Maduro insisted he had spoken with his officers who had assured him of their “total loyalty” to the dictator.
“Nerves of steel!,” Maduro said on Twitter. “I call for maximum popular mobilization to assure the victory of peace. We will win!”
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, in a Twitter post directed at Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, said the armed forces “must protect the Constitution and the Venezuelan people.”
Padrino called the latest instability a “coup movement” but several hours after Guaido’s announcement there was no sign of any other military activity and there were no immediate reports of casualties, the AP report said.