Video shows armoured vehicle plowing group of Juan Guaido’s supporters
U.S.-recognized President Juan Guaido has appealed for his supporters to take to the streets of Venezuela again on Wednesday, after troops loyal to socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro’s regime plowed into a crowd of protesters with an armored vehicle.
Maduro, whom the opposition leader is trying to unseat, is refusing to stand down, despite the uprising and mass protests.
In a television address, Maduro attempted to downplay Mr. Guaidó’s supporters, describing them as a “small group” whose plan had failed.
Maduro is fighting back, however, and footage shows an armored vehicle plowing into a crowd of pro-Guaido supporters.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 30, 2019
Meanwhile, the US administration alleges that Maduro was preparing to flee to Cuba to escape the unrest.
“They had an airplane on the tarmac. He was ready to leave this morning [Tuesday], as we understand it. Russians indicated he should stay,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN.
According to the BBC, senior US officials also claimed three prominent figures in Mr. Maduro’s government had agreed the president had to go, but later backtracked.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton said those figures allegedly included Defence Secretary Vladimir Padrino – who has since reaffirmed his support and appeared alongside Mr. Maduro in his televised address.
The opposition leader called on Venezuelans and the military to back him in what he called the “final phase” of toppling Maduro, Reuters reported.
Guaido was also joined by his mentor, politician Leopoldo Lopez, who was meant to be under house arrest, according to Newsweek.
Lopez tweeted, “I’ve been freed by soldiers following the constitution and President Guaido. I’m at the base. Let’s all mobilize. It’s time to win Freedom.”
Hundreds of civilians descended on the base and were met with tear gas.
Troops loyal to Guaido exchanged gunfire with troops loyal to Maduro, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reported “there were signs that the rebellion was spreading across the country, with reports of pro-opposition protests in [other] major cities including Valencia, Puerto Ordaz,” and Barquisimeto.
Several hundred people also rallied outside Maduro’s palace in support of the dictator.
While Maduro did not make a public appearance, he issued a statement saying he had spoken with military leaders who reassured him of their “total loyalty.”
Maduro’s second in command told the media that Venezuela was in a state of “absolute calm,” despite the uprising staged by what he referred to as “the coup-mongering, murderous far right.”
CNN reported Tuesday that a full-on overthrow attempt was underway, with pro-Guaido supporters tossing Molotov cocktails, joined by armed members of the Bolivian National Guard who were fighting against Maduro’s troops.
Footage posted by NBC News purportedly shows a military vehicle “slamming into pro-Guaido protesters” outside the La Carlota base on Tuesday.