POST TIME: 23 January, 2019 09:32:29 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 January, 2019 09:36:04 PM
Political unrest clings Venezuela
AFP, Caracas

Political unrest clings Venezuela

Opposition supporters and regime loyalists in Venezuela were set to hold competing mass street rallies yesterday, two days after a failed mutiny by soldiers hoping to spark a movement that would overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

“We have a historic appointment with our country, with the future of our children,” said National Assembly president Juan Guaido, the driving force behind the opposition protest.

“Venezuelan military, tomorrow we have a historic appointment with the people,” he said Tuesday during a session of the legislature, which the regime has stripped of power.

Guaido, 35, called for the demonstration earlier this month after Maduro was sworn in for a second term of office over objections from both the opposition and large sections of the international community.

Maduro earned his second term by winning snap elections in May that were boycotted by the opposition and dismissed as a fraud by the European Union, the United States and many Latin American countries.

The opposition protest aims to support Guaido’s bid to set up a transitional government ahead of new elections. He received support on Tuesday from US Vice-President Mike Pence, whose country has sanctioned top regime figures.

Pence wrote on Twitter: “As the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you.”

Maduro responded by accusing the US, through Pence, of trying to engineer a coup. Venezuela’s government ominously predicted there would be violence against opposition protesters, although claiming it would be self-inflicted in a bid to portray the regime as brutal.

Venezuela’s Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez even said Monday’s mutiny, in which soldiers took over a command post in the north of Caracas and called on the public to head to the streets in repudiation of Maduro, was merely a ruse to steal weapons.

US Senator Marco Rubio warned of manipulation by Venezuela’s intelligence service, urging them to “reconsider the plan they have for tomorrow before it’s too late.” Monday’s mutiny was quickly put down.