Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has congratulated the country’s military for “defeating” the plotters of a coup after a day of protests called on by opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Addressing the nation following a sustained attempt by Juan Guaido and the opposition to oust him from power, the country’s elected leader has thanked the armed forces for defeating a “small group that tried to fill the country with violence”.
#LIVE | President @NicolasMaduro: “We have 5 soldiers, 2 colonels who are injured after being shot at [by coup plotters]” pic.twitter.com/7CUW2YiYgY
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) May 1, 2019
Confirming that his government has faced several “modalities” of a coup d’état, Maduro pinned Tuesday’s violence on the US, who the president believes masterminded the failed attempt to overthrow his government.
“The self-proclaimed, Juan Guaido, and Leopoldo López personally led the coup d’état,” Maduro said.
The president also announced the appointment of “three special prosecutors” to examine “criminal” actions by the opposition, noting that “we have colonels wounded by bullets and in intensive care,” following the violence instigated by dissidents.
Some of the protests were peaceful and others led to intense skirmishes, yet fatalities were avoided throughout the day. A few dozen people were injured by rubber bullets, tear gas and –allegedly– live ammunition. An armored vehicle was also recorded ramming into a cluster of Guaido supporters.
Those military officers who answered Guaido’s calls for regime change in the country, Maduro noted, were lured by the opposition “under false pretenses”, but once they came to their senses they “left the coup leaders alone” and surrendered.
In the televised address, Maduro also made public the appointment of Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez as the head of the Sebin intelligence agency.’
Read more: Maduro congratulates military on ‘defeating’ coup attempt as Guaido calls for more protests
Coup fizzles? Guaido’s mentor takes refuge in Chilean embassy as 25 military seek asylum in Brazil’s
Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez has sought refuge in Chile’s embassy in Caracas, while at least 25 pro-Juan Guaido troops asked Brazil for refuge. The news all but points to the failure of the US-backed coup attempt.
Lopez had been under house arrest since 2017, but was seen at the side of Guaido – who had declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January – on Tuesday morning, as supporters of the US-backed opposition sought to take control of Caracas by force. At least 50 people were injured and 11 arrested during the unrest on Tuesday.
By the afternoon, however, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero tweeted that Lopez, his wife Lilian Tintori, and their daughter were “guests” of the Chilean diplomatic mission in Caracas, adding that “Chile reaffirms commitment to Venezuelan democrats.”
Later on Tuesday, Lopez and his wife moved to the Spanish embassy, according to Ampuero, who tweeted that it was a “personal decision” on the part of the pair, who are of Spanish descent.
Meanwhile, at least 25 armed Guaido supporters have sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Caracas, Brazilian media reported. There were no officers among them, according to reports.
Lilian Tintori y su hija ingresaron como huéspedes a residencia de nuestra misión diplomática en Caracas. Hace minutos se sumó su cónyuge, Leopoldo López, que permanece junto a su familia en dicho lugar. Chile reafirma compromiso con demócratas venezolanos.
— Roberto Ampuero (@robertoampuero) April 30, 2019
The flight of Lopez and his family suggests that Guaido’s effort to win over the Venezuelan military and police – with verbal support from Washington – may have failed, as the majority of the security forces apparently remained loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.’
Bolton calls for ‘regime change’ in Venezuela soon
US national security advisor John Bolton has called for “change of the regime” in Caracas, and accused Cuba of controlling the current government of Venezuela, while backing an opposition politician’s attempt at armed coup.
Bolton called on senior officials in the government of President Nicolas Maduro to switch their support to the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, “if the Cubans will let them do it.”
He also disputed the media description of Tuesday’s events in Caracas as an attempted coup, arguing that it was a legitimate president giving orders to the country’s military.
This is clearly not a coup. We recognize Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
Bolton maintained there was “overwhelming public support” for Guaido in Venezuela and that Maduro is surrounded by Cuban bodyguards, calling on the head of the Venezuelan supreme court, the defense minister, and head of the presidential guard to defect to Guaido’s side.
.@vladimirpadrino, @Ivanr_HD, @MaikelMorenoTSJ: Your time is up. This is your last chance. Accept Interim President Guaido’s amnesty, protect the Constitution, and remove Maduro, and we will take you off our sanctions list. Stay with Maduro, and go down with the ship.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) April 30, 2019
We don’t know what the command structure is right now, other than it reports to Havana,” Bolton claimed, adding, “I hope we can have a change in the regime in Caracas soon.”
Despite US claims of overwhelming popular support for Guaido, the opposition politician failed to take control in January. Nor did he succeed in the attempt to force open the border between Colombia and Venezuela for US “humanitarian aid” in February. Since then, the Trump administration has sought to explain Maduro’s resilience by embracing the narrative that Venezuela is really under “Cuban occupation.”’