Selasa, 30 April 2019

Live Updates: Clashes Flare After Venezuela Opposition Leader Calls for Military Uprising - The New York Times

• Clashes between anti-government protesters and law enforcement officers erupted in Caracas on Tuesday after the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, appeared alongside soldiers at a military base and called for the population to rise up against the president, Nicolás Maduro.

• While Mr. Guaidó has exhorted the Venezuela military to join his side since he declared himself interim president more than three months ago, it was a new step for him to make the declaration with men in uniform by his side. Still, it was unclear how much of the military supports him.

• The Trump administration, which has backed Mr. Guaidó since he first declared himself interim president in January, expressed immediate support for his latest move. “Estamos con ustedes! We are with you!,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a Twitter post.

Mr. Guaidó, whose effort to topple Mr. Maduro has made little headway since he declared himself interim president in January, took a new step by making his case publicly at a military base in the heart of the capital.

“Today, brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men attached to the Constitution have followed our call,” Mr. Guaidó said in a video posted on social media, speaking from Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda Air Base, a military airport in Caracas known as La Carlota.

Mr. Guaidó claimed that “the definitive end of the usurpation starts today,” but it was not clear how many civilians or soldiers would heed him.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez hugging a supporter after being released from house arrest.CreditRayner Pena/EPA, via Shutterstock

Behind Mr. Guaidó stood Leopoldo López, a member of his party who received a nearly 14-year sentence after staging protests in 2014 and has been held by the government under house arrest. Mr. López did not speak in the video but issued messages on Twitter saying that he had been released by soldiers.

“I was released by the military on the order of the Constitution and President Guaidó,” he wrote in his first Twitter posts since 2017. “Everyone mobilize. It’s time to conquer for freedom.”

Speaking to reporters near the airstrip, Mr. Guaidó said that a wide swath of the military now backed him, including top commanders, but he declined to release their names.

“There are generals, there are lieutenant colonels, there are majors, there are colonels — it’s a reflection of the country,” he said.

Troops loyal to Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro launching tear gas from inside the air base.CreditFernando Llano/Associated Press

President Maduro insisted in a Twitter post that the military was on his side, saying commanders had assured him of “their total loyalty to the people, to the Constitution and to the fatherland.”

Jorge Rodríguez, the government’s information minister, said on Twitter that government was “confronting and deactivating a small group of military traitors” that he said had taken over the base “to promote a coup.” He blamed the “coup-mongering ultraright,” which he said had pushed for a violent agenda for months in Venezuela.

National guard soldiers and policemen fought against anti-government protesters who were beginning to assemble for a protest in response to Mr. Guaidó’s call. Witnesses said tear gas canisters could be seen detonating near the military base.

The government and supporters of Mr. Guaidó had encircled Mr. Maduro’s presidential palace by midmorning.

Videos posted on social media showed a crowd of protesters approaching the air base, waving Venezuelan flags.

A member of the National Guard who supports Mr. Guaidó throwing a tear gas canister during a confrontation with guards loyal to Mr. Maduro.CreditYuri Cortez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I believe this is very important, but I see apathy and fear in people,” said one of the protesters, Mary Galaviz, 69. “We should not be afraid. In war there is death, but goals are achieved.”

Miriam Segovia, 52, another protester near the base, said she hoped that the armed forces would “put themselves on the side of the Constitution, so we can escape this misery, this hunger and lack of medication.”

Battered by mismanagement, American sanctions and corruption, the Venezuelan economy has been in steep decline since 2014. Millions of people have emigrated, and the roughly 30 million who remain are plagued by hyperinflation and shortages of medicines, food, electricity and jobs.

Mr. Maduro, who has been in office since 2013, won re-election last year in a contest that was widely seen as fraudulent. In January, the National Assembly, controlled by the opposition and led by Mr. Guaidó, declared the election and the government illegitimate, leading Mr. Guaidó to claim to be the rightful, transitional leader.

More than 50 countries, including the United States and most of its close allies, recognized him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

On Tuesday morning, Vice President Mike Pence reiterated American support for the opposition, posting a message of encouragement on Twitter: “To @jgauido, the National Assembly and all the freedom-loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in #operacionlibertad — Estamos con ustedes! We are with you! America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored. Vayan con dios!”

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2019-04-30 15:56:15Z

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