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Maduro denies plans to flee Venezuela as Juan Guaidó calls on military to revolt

Guaidó claimed this was the “beginning of the end” of Maduro’s regime, and there was “no turning back.”

Guaido Source: Juan Guaidó Marquez/YouTube

DEMONSTRATORS CLASHED WITH police on the streets of the Venezuelan capital, spurred by opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s call on the military to rise up against President Nicolás Maduro – who said he had defeated an attempted coup.

An apparently carefully planned attempt by Guaidó to demonstrate growing military support disintegrated into rioting as palls of black smoke rose over eastern Caracas.

Yesterday evening, Maduro declared victory over the uprising – congratulating the armed forces for having “defeated this small group that intended to spread violence through putschist skirmishes”.

“This will not go unpunished,” Maduro said in an address broadcast on television and the radio.

(Prosecutors) will launch criminal prosecutions for the serious crimes that have been committed against the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace.

Maduro has also denied claims by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he had intended to flee to Cuba in the midst of a military uprising against him.

Mike Pompeo said that… Maduro had a plane ready to take him to Cuba but the Russians prevented him from leaving the country. Mister Pompeo, please, this really is a joke.

Guaidó had been immediately backed by the US, where President Donald Trump said in a tweet Washington was standing behind the Venezuelan people and their “freedom.”

He rallied his supporters with an early morning video message that showed him – for the first time – with armed troops he said had heeded months of urging to join his campaign to oust Maduro.

The 35-year-old National Assembly leader was filmed outside the La Carlota air base, where he asked the armed forces inside to join him.

Guaidó claimed the move was the “beginning of the end” of Maduro’s regime, and there was “no turning back.”

We showed there are soldiers willing to defend the constitution, and there are many more.

The opposition plans to hold a massive May Day protest in Caracas, where Maduro will also lead a rival rally.

Venezuela: ¿Se puede hablar de un ''golpe'' contra una dictadura? Source: Getty/Tns

‘Definitive phase’

The government suspended broadcasts from BBC Mundo, CNN International and a Caracas radio station, local media and the National Union of Press Workers said.

The Lima Group of mostly Latin American countries announced an emergency meeting in Lima on Friday to discuss the crisis.

Tensions in Venezuela have been ratcheted up to a critical level this year, after Guaidó announced on 23 January that he was the acting president under the constitution. He said Maduro had been fraudulently re-elected last year.

Although Trump has repeatedly said “all options” are on the table regarding Venezuela – including, implicitly, military action – there has been no noticeable US military mobilization.

Instead, Washington has upped the economic pressure, through sanctions aimed at Maduro’s regime and by cutting sales of Venezuelan oil – its main revenue earner.

© – AFP 2019

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