Quantcast
Connect with us

Venezuela’s military brass backs Maduro, accuses challenger of ‘coup’

Published

on

Venezuela’s powerful military high command threw its weight behind President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday as opposition leader Juan Guaido pressed a direct challenge to his authority with the backing of the United States and key Latin American allies.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, a general, accused Guaido of attempting a “coup d’etat” and said Maduro, 56, is “the legitimate president.”

Eight generals who command of strategic regions of the country reiterated their “absolute loyalty and subordination” to the socialist leader in messages carried on state television.

Some ended their statements by adding: “Always loyal, never traitors.”

In Washington, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Maduro government against the use of force against demonstrators in a speech to the Organization of American States.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The time for debate is done. The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate,” Pompeo said.

Guaido, 35, set the showdown in motion Wednesday by proclaiming himself “acting president” and was swiftly recognized by the United States and about a dozen regional governments, including those of Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

Mexico, Cuba and Bolivia, all in the hands of leftist governments, pledged support for Maduro.

ADVERTISEMENT

Further afield, Maduro received support from allies Russia and China while France and Canada backed Guaido.

Guaido’s bold move came amid a fresh wave of deadly street clashes between protesters and security forces in this oil-rich but economically devastated country.

A deep depression marked by hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine has triggered an exodus of Venezuelans to surrounding countries.

ADVERTISEMENT

 AFP / YURI CORTEZ Bloody clashes erupted on the streets of Caracas as an opposition leader mounted a challenge against the government

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets on Wednesday — on the 61st anniversary of the fall of the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship — in rival rallies opposing and supporting the regime.

It capped three days of high tension that began Monday when a group of soldiers took over a command post in the capital Caracas and rose up against Maduro.

That was quickly quashed and officials said 27 people were arrested but it sparked a wave of smaller protests that were met by security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict told AFP that 16 people have died in clashes over the past three days.

– Trump angers Maduro –

US President Donald Trump almost immediately recognized Guaido’s claims to power, declaring Maduro “illegitimate” and the National Assembly “the only legitimate branch of government.”

ADVERTISEMENT

An enraged Maduro responded by breaking off diplomatic ties with the “imperialist” US government, ordering its diplomats to leave within 72 hours.

 AFP / Federico PARRA Venezuela’s National Assembly head Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s ‘acting president’

Defying Maduro, Guaido urged diplomats to stay put, in an open letter to embassies in the country.

The US State Department said that as it no longer recognized Maduro as president, it did not accept his authority to sever ties or declare its diplomats “persona non grata.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Maduro’s key ally Russia denounced Guaido’s bid as a “usurpation” of power and warned that “this is a direct path to lawlessness and bloodshed.”

The Venezuelan president’s main financial backer China said it opposes “interference” in Venezuelan affairs.

Wednesday’s mass street protests were the first in Venezuela since a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations between April and July, 2017 that claimed the lives of 125 people.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Caracas, tens of thousands of opposition supporters dressed in white and waving Venezuelan flags chanted: “Guaido, friend, the people are with you.”

Maduro hit back in a speech from a balcony at the presidential palace, lashing out at Trump’s “extremist policy,” calling it “a very serious folly.”

                                                                             AFP / Luis ROBAYO Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro told supporters he was breaking off diplomatic ties with the United States

“Trying to impose a government by extra-constitutional means, we cannot accept that,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, appealed for dialogue to keep the crisis from spiralling out of control, warning it could lead “to the kind of conflict that would be a disaster for the people of Venezuela and for the region.”

– Military support key –

Maduro was reelected in May in snap elections boycotted by the opposition and denounced around the world as fraudulent.

ADVERTISEMENT

He has held onto power in the face of mass protests, international pressure and opposition efforts to oust him.

 AFP / AFP Venezuela

Crucially, he has consistently retained the support of the military high command.

Analysts at the Eurasia Group consultancy said international recognition of Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president “will further elevate his profile and cement him as the main face of the opposition.”

ADVERTISEMENT

However, Guaido still lacks the “recognition by senior elements of the military” necessary to remove the president and hence “Maduro’s fall does not appear imminent.”

They said Trump might consider further economic sanctions against Venezuela, a third of whose oil production goes to the US.

Guaido has tried to elicit military support, offering an amnesty to any Maduro allies who take the opposition’s side.

Maduro has presided over a deepening economic crisis that has left the country facing shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Some 2.3 million people have fled the country since 2015, according to the United Nations. The International Monetary Fund says inflation will hit 10 million percent this year.


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].

Send confidential news tips to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Nazis ‘feed off of’ Trump’s statements: MSNBC law enforcement analyst warns of the president inciting violence

Published

on

An MSNBC law enforcement analyst warned of President Donald Trump inciting violence with his racist targeting of women of color in Congress.

Anchor Joy Reid interviewed Jim Cavanaugh, a retired ATF special agent-in-charge on Friday evening's "The Last Word."

"So those threats beginning about two years ago, increases in white nationalist activity. Have you ever heard of these kinds of increases in hate and potential hate crimes being tied to a president of the United States?" Reid asked.

"No," he replied. "That’s very, very unusual, Joy, to have that happen."

"You know, when you get more power, your words carry more weight. When you get into this undercurrent of the Nazis and the white nationalists and the klansmen, they feed off of this. They feed off of public figures -- on the regular media, in the government, congressmen, senators, the president -- saying the things they always say," he explained. "It bolsters them. It gives them strength and power."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

The Robert Mueller standard must be overthrown — for the sake of democracy

Published

on

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is a meticulous and compelling document recounting President Donald Trump’s actions and the informational warfare carried out during the 2016 election by the Russian government. But it contains a serious flaw — and it sents a terrible precedent for the country.

We’re now confronted with that flaw once again as the Justice Department has revealed that the case of the 2016 criminal hush money payments meant to benefit Trump’s campaign has closed. Michael Cohen has already been imprisoned for his part in the scheme, but his testimony, public evidence, and common sense all indicate that Trump, too, was just as culpable.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Rush Limbaugh admits his attacks on Obama were ‘bogus’ as he attempts to defend Trump

Published

on

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh admitted that Republican fear-mongering over the federal deficit under President Obama was “bogus,” while defending the deficit's explosive rise to $1 trillion under President Trump.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

During Limbaugh’s show on Tuesday, a caller suggested that Republicans should nominate a young fiscal conservative instead of Trump, citing the rising deficit. Limbaugh dismissed the concerns, declaring that fiscal conservatism was basically a sham all along.

Continue Reading
 
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

Join Me. Try Raw Story Investigates for $1. Invest in Journalism. Escape Ads.
close-image