Venezuela’s Guaido still looking to win over the military


Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim head of state Juan Guaido speaks to the press Friday, May 3, 2019, and says the opposition will hold demonstrations this weekend at the gates of military installations around the country to ask the troops to turn their backs on President Nicolas Maduro and support the transition to a new government. EFE-EPA/Miguel Gutierrez.

CARACAS.– The Venezuelan opposition will hold demonstrations this weekend at the gates of military installations around the country to ask the troops to turn their backs on President Nicolas Maduro, self-proclaimed interim head of state Juan Guaido said Friday.

«In every state we will go once more (to the barracks) to deliver our message, so that more of those we need will join us today,» Guaido told a press conference in Caracas just three days after leading a short-lived military uprising with some 20 soldiers.

People will begin gathering outside bases at 10.00 am Saturday with the aim of delivering a yet-to-be-drafted manifesto, the speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said.

«If we find police blocking the way, we won’t try to shove our way through them. No, we’ll talk with them, we’ll hand them the document and invite them to join the fight because we already know that many want be part of this, we know that many are unhappy with the way things stand,» Guaido said.

He added that the breakup of the armed forces is «evident,» an idea he has maintained since he began calling on the military at the beginning of the year to accompany him in the transition.

Early Tuesday, Guaido, flanked by several rebellious National Guard troops, said that Venezuela’s «military family» had decided to join his movement to drive Maduro from power.

Appearing alongside him was the leader of his Popular Will party, Leopoldo Lopez, who said dissident intelligence agents had allowed him to escape the house arrest he had been under since 2017. Lopez was sentenced to nearly 14 years behind bars for promoting anti-government protests in February 2014 that turned deadly.

Instead of rallying behind Guaido, senior military figures pledged continued support for Maduro and vowed that those behind the rebellion would be held accountable.

Guaido, who proclaimed himself interim president in late January shortly after Maduro was sworn in for a second term, describes the president as a «usurper» and says his re-election victory last year was marred by fraud.

Venezuela, which has been racked in recent years by food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation, has seen the exodus of millions of its citizens.

Maduro’s critics say the country’s economic woes are the result of socialist policies dating back to his late political mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who was Venezuela’s president from 1999 until his death from cancer in 2013.

Venezuela’s government, however, says the crude-rich country’s problems stem from long-standing economic warfare by the US, which in late January imposed oil sanctions aimed at denying Maduro access to his main source of hard currency.

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