- The US is has reiterated that it is willing to intervene in Venezuela to help the opposition oust President Nicolás Maduro.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “military action is possible” if needed.
- Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has made a rallying call for the armed forces to disavow the socialist government.
- His mass rallies are losing momentum, however, as soldiers fail to defect and protesters are injured.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the US government’s willingness to engage in military action in Venezuela if it becomes clear that a peaceful government transition is off the table on Wednesday, just as opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s bid to oust President Nicolás Maduro began to lose momentum.
“Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox Business.
President Donald Trump pledged to continue supporting Juan Guaidó, who re-energised the opposition when he declared himself Venezuela’s interim president in January.
“We are doing everything we can do short of the ultimate,” Trump told Fox Business. “There are people who would like to have us do the ultimate.”
Guaidó sparked a wave of mass protests after he made his biggest plea yet for the military to disavow the socialist government on Tuesday. A large majority of the armed forces remain loyal to Maduro as high-ranking officers enjoy powerful positions in the government and in business.
Even though opposition supporters flooded the streets around the country on Wednesday, the rallies failed to spark any large-scale defections from soldiers. Instead security forces cracked down on protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, The Associated Press reported.
At least one protester was killed and 130 people were injured on Wednesday, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.
Marilina Carillo, who attended an anti-government march, told the AP: “I don’t want to say it was a disaster, but it wasn’t a success.”
At a protest in the capital Caracas, Guaidó urged his supporters to continue hitting the streets, and not to lose hope.
But he confessed: “Hard days lie ahead, probably because of the attacks, the persecution, and the witch hunt.”
Maduro, on the other hand, gloated about defeating the attempted coup, sharing images of his loyalists staging a “monumental march of the working class.” During the rally, the president denounced the opposition’s uprising as a “coup d’etat” that he said was orchestrated by the US.
“Whoever wants to make it into [the presidential palace] Miraflores, only has to meet one requirement: Win the election with the vote from the people,” he said in his speech Wednesday.
Este histórico #1May presenciamos una Marcha Monumental de los Trabajadores y las Trabajadoras que, con amor y conciencia superior, expresaron la férrea voluntad de un pueblo decidido a defender la libertad y la soberanía patria, al costo que sea necesario. pic.twitter.com/RFnRe0aBlH
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) May 2, 2019
However, most Western nations believe that the election that got Maduro into power was rigged. More than 50 countries, including the US, UK, and most Latin American nations, recognise Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
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