Venezuelan general urges military to disavow Maduro as opposition stages rallies

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Pro-Maduro demonstrators took to the streets on the western side of Caracas to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bolivarian revolution that led to the rise of socialist Hugo Chavez, Maduro's deceased predecessor.

In the video, Gen. Francisco Yanez, a member of the air force's high command, calls on other members of the military to defect. "Wives are sacred. So don't cross that red line".

Military is a key pillar of support for the deeply unpopular Maduro. Failing that, they will join the United States in recognizing National Assembly speaker Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany are among nations pushing the European Union to recognize Juan Guaido "as president ad interim of Venezuela", according to a draft communique obtained by Bloomberg, in the latest move by the west to isolate President Nicolas Maduro.

According to two documents prepared for European Union diplomats and seen by Reuters, they will "acknowledge support" for Guaido in his role as interim president.

Venezuela's long-fragmented opposition appears to have unified behind the figure of Guaido, a 35-year-old industrial engineer and federal lawmaker who was little known here until he declared himself acting president last week. "Do you think Venezuela is going to give up and obey your orders?"

Russia, China, and Iran also support Maduro, as does Turkey.

"Maduro's tyranny must end and must end now", US Vice President Mike Pence told a rally of exiled Venezuelans in Miami on the eve of the protest.

Venezuela's Maduro accuses Trump of ordering his murder: RIA
Vice President Mike Pence also met Tuesday with a new Venezuelan envoy appointed by Guaido, Carlos Alfredo Vecchio. Speaking Tuesday outside the National Assembly, Guaido said he was aware of personal risks.

Francisco Sucre heads the global committee of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela. And the US officials who are leading the push to have Maduro cede power to a transitional government contend that the attempted transactions form part of his authoritarian regime's bid to ransack the country in its final days in power.

Later Thursday, Guaido told The Associated Press that he will defy a government ban on humanitarian aid by sending large convoys of medicine into the country with the help of neighboring nations.

Most Latin American countries have done so as well, while European governments are also throwing their support behind Guaido, albeit more cautiously. "We do not consider him as head of state, we don't recognize him as such". Maduro claims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.

Maduro has repeatedly blamed Washington for being behind a state coup in Venezuela. Spain's state-run EFE news agency said three of its journalists were freed Thursday after being detained overnight in Venezuela's capital.

Citizen Control, a non-governmental watchdog led by San Miguel, estimates that 180 members of the military were arrested in 2018, and some 10,000 members of the armed forces have left the service since 2015.

The embattled Nicolas Maduro regime halted plans to ship 20 tons of Venezuelan gold overseas as a growing global push to ring-fence the country's dwindling hard assets unnerved those handling the transaction, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

"The Kremlin would deny that but the Kremlin does work through private mercenaries", Wigell said, adding that "the Maduro regime doesn't entirely trust its own armed forces anymore".

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