Venezuela opposition ‘has met military’, says Juan Guaidó

Agency, 31 January : Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó has held secret meetings with the military to win support for ousting President Nicolás Maduro.

Mr Guaidó made the revelation in a New York Times opinion piece. The opposition leader declared himself interim president earlier this month, prompting an escalating power struggle.

Russia and China continue to back Mr Maduro, while the US and several Latin American countries have recognised Mr Guaidó.

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had spoken to Mr Guaidó and supported his “historic assumption of the presidency”, writing in a second tweet that “The fight for freedom has begun!”

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt meanwhile is expected to urge EU nations to impose sanctions on key figures in Mr Maduro’s government on Thursday, after also speaking to Mr Guaidó on Wednesday.

About three million people have fled Venezuela amid acute economic problems, and there has been an upsurge in violence in recent weeks.

Protests have been held across the country since Mr Maduro began his second term on 10 January. He was elected last year during a controversial vote in which many opposition candidates were barred from running, or jailed.

“We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces,” Mr Guaidó writes in the New York Times article.

“The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government, and the majority of those in service agree that the country’s recent travails are untenable.”

The article also says the opposition has offered an amnesty to armed forces “found not guilty of crimes against humanity”.

As head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Mr Guaidó says the constitution allows him to assume power temporarily when the president is deemed illegitimate.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has banned the opposition leader from leaving the country, however, and frozen his bank accounts.

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3 months ago

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