Venezuelan Opposition Leader Calls Citizens to the Streets, Says Coup Is Underway
Early Tuesday morning – after years of deteriorating conditions under the leadership of Nicolás Maduro – the leader of Venezuela’s opposition party, Juan Guaidó, called the Venezuelan people to action.
According to the Guardian, Guaidó took to Twitter at dawn to share a video announcing that the military was standing with the opposition and that this was the "final phase" toward freedom and democracy in Venezuela. The video showed Guadió surrounded by military personnel.
After this, with the help of the military, the opposition leader reportedly freed opposition politician Leopoldo López who was arrested as a political prisoner in 2014 and was under house arrest.
Lopez seemingly confirmed his rescue tweeting, “The definitive phase towards the end of the usurpation has begun, Operation Freedom. I’ve been freed by soldiers following the constitution and President Guaidó. I’m at the La Carlota base. Let’s all mobilise. It’s time to win Freedom. Strength and Faith.”
The Associated Press reports that López also called on the people to take to the streets saying, “This is the moment of all Venezuelans, those in uniform and those who aren’t. Everyone should come to the streets, in peace.”
According to the Guardian, demonstrations quickly broke out across the country.
The head of the Venezuelan military, Vladimir Padrino, took to Twitter to weigh in on the military’s alliance, refuting Guaidó’s claims that the military is with the opposition. He wrote, “The armed forces remain firm in their defense of the national constitution and the legitimate authorities. All military units deployed in the eight defense regions report things are normal in the barracks and military bases, which are under the command of their local commanders.”
He continued, “We reject this coup movement, which seeks to fill our country with violence. The pseudo-leaders at the head of this subversive movement are using troops and police officers armed with combat weapons on the streets of the city to stir up anxiety and terror.
You’re a bunch of cowards! We will remain firm in the defense of constitutional order and the peace of the republic, backed up by law, history and what is right. Ever loyal, never traitors!”
According to video footage posted to Twitter by protesters, it appears the military’s alliances have fractured.
A video posted by Conflicts New Worldwide News, shows armored military vehicles turning away from the protesters in Puerto Ordaz as they cheered them off. In Caracas – the nation’s capital – however, National Guard members can be seen chasing protesters away in a chaotic scene. According to the AP, there were sporadic efforts by the National Guard to use tear gas on protestors.
Fuerte arremetida de la Guardia Chavista contra quienes nos encontrábamos en la autopista Francisco Fajardo, #Caracas. pic.twitter.com/c4vRl65jnp — Segovia Bastidas (@SegoviaBastidas) April 30, 2019
Reportedly, Maduro told protesters in the capital that he will not back down, despite reports that say the current actions by opposition party members are just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the Guardian, Guaidó’s ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, held a press conference in Washington DC., Tuesday afternoon, claiming that the ongoing demonstrations are “only the beginning.”
Vecchio said, “This is only the beginning. This is an operation that is developing right now, you will see more events in the hours and days to come.”
He continued, “This is not a military coup, this is a constitutional crisis, lead by the Venezuelan people.”
Reportedly, Vecchio also had a message for Maduro. He said “Your time is over. Venezuela is ready for a change, you must facilitate a transition in our country. You must allow the Venezuelan people to reestablish a Democratic system… nobody is going to stop it.”
This is a developing story, as protests are expected to continue in the coming days.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Stringer