Venezuela’s Guaido in attempted coup against Maduro
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido said on Tuesday that troops had joined his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro as the government vowed to put down what it called an attempted coup.
Hundreds of people, many waving Venezuelan flags, flocked onto a highway near a Caracas military base, and police responded with tear-gas as some of the demonstrators broke away to throw rocks at security forces.
The government said it was "deactivating" an attempted coup by a small group of "treacherous" soldiers.
President Nicolas Maduro said he had spoken with military leaders and they had shown him "their total loyalty," after opposition leader Juan Guaido said he had the support of troops to oust Maduro.
"Nerves of steel!," Maduro said on Twitter. "I call for maximum popular mobilization to assure the victory of peace. We will win!”
"We are currently facing and deactivating a small group of treacherous military personnel who took positions in the Altamira distributor road (in Caracas) to promote a coup d'etat," Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Twitter.
"We call on the people to remain on maximum alert to -- with our glorious National Bolivarian Armed Forces- defeat the attempted coup and preserve peace," he said.
The U.S., meanwhile, threw its full support behind Guaido, with the White House calling on the military to protect the people and support the country's "legitimate institutions," including the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
"The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter.
In a video recorded at Caracas' La Carlota military air base and posted on social media, the US-backed Guaido said troops had heeded months of urging to join his campaign to oust Maduro.
"Today brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men supporting the constitution have answered our call," he said.
Television images showed soldiers and Guaido supporters on a road outside the base milling around without urgency.
Hundreds of people gradually joined the group on a highway overpass near the base, many waving Venezuelan flags.
President Ivan Duque of neighboring Colombia- home to more than a million refugees from Maduro's regime- called on Twitter for "soldiers and the people of Venezuela to place themselves on the right side of history, rejecting dictatorship and Maduro's usurpation."
Internet observatory NetBlocks reported in a Twitter message that "multiple internet services" were restricted in Venezuela following Guaido's appeal.