- Associated Press
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

8:50 p.m.


Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido is urging people to take to the streets for new mass protests Wednesday.

In a video statement posted on social media Tuesday night, Guaido also urged the military to join with those clamoring for change in Venezuela.

The leader recognized by more than 50 nations as Venezuela’s rightful leader said socialist President Nicolas Maduro “doesn’t have the backing or the respect” of the military.

Guaido called for a military uprising earlier Tuesday, issuing the most serious challenge yet to Maduro’s contested rule. But only one high-ranking officer and a small group of soldiers have broken publicly with Maduro so far.

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8:10 p.m.

The head of Venezuela’s secret police is admonishing President Nicolas Maduro, in the biggest break so far by a senior member of the security forces.

SEBIN leader Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera wrote a letter to the Venezuelan people Tuesday saying it is time to “rebuild the country.”

A senior U.S. official confirmed the authenticity of the note circulating on social media.

Figuera says he has always been loyal to Maduro, but Venezuela has experienced a damaging decline. Though he does not name opposition leader Juan Guaidó, Figuera writes, “The time has come to seek new ways of doing politics.”

The senior U.S. official says Figuera’s wife is outside Venezuela. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to share details on the general’s statement.

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6:05 p.m.

A group of Latin American nations and Canada is backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in what it calls his efforts “to restore democracy” to his South American country. It rejects characterizations of his move as an attempted coup.

The statement Tuesday from the Lima Group calls on Venezuela’s military to place its loyalties with Guaidó, not President Nicolás Maduro. It urges the armed forces “to cease being instruments of the illegitimate regime for the oppression of the Venezuelan people.”

The group has recognized Guaidó’s as Venezuela’s rightful interim president, saying Maduro’s re-election was illegitimate.

The statement was signed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

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5:25 p.m.

Venezuela’s U.N. ambassador says President Nicolas Maduro has “defeated” opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his supporters, and “the country is right now in a situation of perfect normality.”

Samuel Moncada said at a news conference Tuesday that Maduro “has taken the necessary steps to guarantee the security and right to peace of our people.” He added: “We have defeated them.”

Moncada says the U.N. Security Council should discuss Tuesday’s call by Guaidó for a military uprising against Maduro.

He also criticizes U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for not openly supporting Maduro’s government against Guaido. Guterres’ spokesman says he is urging all sides in Venezuela to exercise “maximum restraint,” avoid any violence, take immediate steps to restore calm, and resolve differences peacefully through dialogue.

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3:50 p.m.

The director of a medical center in Venezuela’s capital says doctors are treating 50 patients injured during street skirmishes.

Salud Chacao director Maggia Santi said Tuesday that 30 of those injured were shot with rubber bullets. Another 16 sustained bodily trauma, three reported difficulty breathing and one was shot with a firearm.

She said doctors have sufficient supplies to treat the injured, in part due to recent donations by organizations including the Red Cross.

Protesters are clashing with forces loyal to President Nicolás Maduro after opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for a military uprising and mass demonstration.

The individual injured by gunfire is reported to be stable.

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3:40 p.m.

Chile’s foreign ministry says Venezuelan activist Leopoldo López and his family have sought refuge at the country’s diplomatic mission in Caracas.

López had been under house arrest, but was apparently freed by mutinous soldiers Tuesday and appeared with opposition leader Juan Guaidó as he called for a military uprising against President Nicolás Maduro.

That set off clashes between security forces and protesters, but the military has largely stuck with Maduro.

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3:20 p.m.

Brazil’s vice president says that the situation in Venezuela has reached a point of no return.

Former Gen. Hamilton Mourão said Tuesday that either opposition leaders Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López would “be prisoners” or President Nicolas Maduro “would be leaving.”

Mourão said, “There is no other way out of this.”

Guaidó on Tuesday called for a military uprising, setting off clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Brazil borders Venezuela to the south and recognizes Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

President Jair Bolsonaro convened a meeting of top ministers Tuesday to discuss the situation in Venezuela.

In recent years, tens of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed into Brazil seeking food, shelter and medicine.

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3:10 p.m.

The White House says it hopes an attempted military uprising in Venezuela will be “enough to tip” leader Nicolás Maduro out of power.

National Security Adviser John Bolton says Tuesday that what’s happening “is clearly not a coup” because the U.S. and many other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president. Bolton says President Donald Trump is monitoring developments “minute by minute” and wants a peaceful transfer of power.

Guaido took to the streets of Venezuela in what Bolton says is an “act of bravery” to lead the uprising against Maduro.

Bolton declined to discuss possible action - military or otherwise - by the U.S. Bolton says only that “all options are on the table.”

Trump tweeted that the U.S. stands with the “People of Venezuela and their Freedom!”

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2:45 p.m.

Dozens of Venezuelan exiles have tied blue ribbons to their right arms and packed a small Venezuelan diner in the Miami suburb of Doral to follow the turmoil in their homeland.

Some shouted “Long Live Venezuela” and “Freedom” while wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the colors of Venezuela’s flag. Others wept as they sang the nation’s anthem. Many were checking social media networks and making video calls to relatives in Venezuela.

Congressional leader Juan Guaidó urged soldiers and civilians in Venezuela to rise up against the government of Nicolas Maduro, setting off clashes between demonstrators and security forces loyal to the socialist president.

Wilfredo Castillo is a general practitioner who arrived three months ago from northern Venezuela. He cried as he said he did not know what it was like to live in a free country.

He said the revolt “gives me hope to go back and step back on my soil, my homeland and be free.”

Florida is home to an estimated 190,000 Venezuelans - a small but significant share of the millions who have left the country in recent years.

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1:15 p.m.

The ambassador to Washington representing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó says the U.S. played no role in coordinating the uprising in Caracas against President Nicolás Maduro.

Carlos Vecchio said in a news conference that the protest “is a movement headed by Venezuelans” and the U.S. didn’t intervene.

The United States has recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president and Vecchio as its ambassador in Washington because it sees Maduro’s re-election invalid.

U.S. officials were quick to issue statements of support after Guaidó appeared in the streets Tuesday to call for the military and civilians to rise up.

Demonstrators have been clashing with pro-Maduro troops, but the revolt so far seems to have only limited military backing.

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1:00 p.m.

The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging all sides in Venezuela to exercise “maximum restraint,” avoid any violence and take immediate steps to restore calm.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that Guterres’ “message publicly and privately has been to push for dialogue in order to resolve this peacefully.”

Dujarric said the secretary-general also wants the Venezuelan people to understand “that his good offices remain available should both sides request them.”

In response to Tuesday’s call by opposition leader Juan Guaidó for a military uprising against President Nicolás Maduro, Dujarric said the U.N. is “reaching out to both sides.”

He noted that Guterres met Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza last week and met Monday with the Lima group of countries supporting Guaidó.

Dujarric also said the U.N. is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff in the country.

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12:55 p.m.

An online censorship-monitoring group says Venezuela’s state-run internet provider has been restricting access to YouTube and some Google services.

Europe-based NetBlocks says CANTV also briefly restricted access Tuesday to Twitter and Facebook after opposition leader Juan Guaidó and freed colleague Leopoldo López said they were rallying military units to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

NetBlocks director Alp Toker says Google’s search engine was not affected, but Microsoft’s Bing was.

NetBlocks says the blockages were not fully effective but marked a sudden escalation of censorship.

Most internet traffic in Venezuela is controlled by CANTV, but blockages could apparently be bypassed using VPN services.

NetBlocks says past recent blockages in Venezuela have lasted from 12 minutes to over 20 hours.

Google and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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12:30 p.m.

Venezuelan military commander Vladimir Padrino López has appeared on national television to say that a “coup attempt” by the opposition is being defeated and most rebellious troops have withdrawn from the streets.

López was flanked by other security forces as he described Tuesday’s rebellion as small and insignificant. He said that the armed forces reject “this new aggression” by the U.S.-backed opposition.

He called it “a savage opposition” and said “it’s an opposition that doesn’t have a sense of patriotism, it’s an anti-democratic opposition.”

The military commander said the rest of Venezuela is calm.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó was joined by several heavily armed troops earlier in the day as he called for the military to rise up against President Nicolás Maduro.

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12:25 p.m.

A group that monitors internet censorship says Venezuela’s state run internet provider has been restricting access to YouTube and Google services following the opposition leader’s call for the military to revolt against President Nicolás Maduro.

The non-governmental NetBlocks group says access to the services remains intermittently available since the restrictions don’t appear to be completely effective.

It says Twitter, Facebook and several other services were briefly restricted earlier ,although core internet connectivity remains unaffected.

It says past incidents of network filtering in Venezuela have lasted from 12 minutes to over 20 hours.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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12:10 p.m.

Russia’s foreign ministry has called on “the radical opposition” in Venezuela to stand down and “refrain from violence.”

The ministry has issued a statement saying “It is important to avoid unrest and bloodshed” and saying Venezuela’s problems “should be resolved through a responsible process of negotiation without preconditions.”

It also calls on the opposition to avoid “destructive interference from abroad.”

Russia is a key ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and is one of his government’s main weapons suppliers.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó called Tuesday for a military uprising against Maduro, and U.S. officials have issued statements of support. Crowds of Guaidó supporters including some soldiers have taken to the streets, but military leaders say they’re remaining loyal to Maduro.

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11:10 a.m.

Mexico is expressing concern over possible escalation of violence and bloodshed in Venezuela.

The Foreign Relations Department has issued a statement reiterating its willingness to seek a peaceful resolution through dialogue and says it is in contact with other countries with the goal of “finding a common path.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador repeated in a Tuesday morning news conference that he believes in nonintervention and dialogue.

Mexico is not among the nations that have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself the rightful leader of Venezuela in a challenge to President Nicolás Maduro.

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10:50 a.m.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza says that the U.S. likely paid a guard to allow opposition activist Leopoldo López escape house arrest as part of an effort to President Nicolás Maduro. Arreaza says the uprising will soon be contained.

Arreaza said in a phone interview with the Associated Press that Maduro is monitoring events closely from the central command facility.

But he says that the thousands of supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaidó who’ve gathered in eastern Caracas won’t succeed in breaking the military’s loyalty to Maduro.

López appeared alongside Guaidó with a number of rebellious military members in Caracas on Tuesday and the two called for a military uprising. U.S. officials have sent statements of support.

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10:40 a.m.

Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolás Maduro have gathered at a rally beside Venezuela’s presidential palace, where security force members are deployed on the perimeter wall.

The Maduro loyalists have been chanting slogans of support and a man on a truck has handed out large posters of Maduro with the Venezuelan flag behind him.

The demonstration comes in response to a call by opposition leader Juan Guaidó for the military and civilians to rise up against Maduro.

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10:25 a.m.

Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro says top military leaders have assured him of their loyalty despite calls by opposition leader Juan Guaidó for the military to rise up.

In a tweet sent Tuesday, Maduro calls for “the maximum popular mobilization to assure the victory of peace.”

Guaidó appeared in the streets with a number of military backers, but so far there’s no sign of a broader revolt in the armed forces.

U.S. officials have issued statements of support for Guaidó, who they recognize as the country’s legitimate leader, though Maduro controls government agencies.

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10:15 a.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is saying “We are with you!” to the Venezuelans taking to the streets after opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for the military to rise up and oust socialist leader Nicolás Maduro.  

Pence said in a tweet addressed to Guaidó, 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!”  

He adds that, “America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored.”  

The U.S. and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader, arguing that Maduro’s re-election was invalid.  

Maduro has accused the U.S. of backing a “coup” in the country.

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9:50 a.m.

The White House says it is “watching and waiting” on the situation in Venezuela and hoping the result is democracy.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says the White House stands with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. recognizes as the interim president of the country. Guaidó has taken to the streets of Caracas and is calling for a military uprising.

Conway says it’s time for socialist leader Nicolás Maduro to go and that the U.S. is pushing for “a peaceful transition of power.”

Says Conway: “We’re watching and we’re waiting. We hope the result is democracy and freedom for the people.”

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9:30 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration backs Venezuelan congressional leader Juan Guaidó in his call for a military uprising against President Nicolás Maduro.

Pompeo says in a tweet that the U.S. “fully supports” Guaido’s call for the start of “Operacion Libertad.” He says the U.S. stands with the Venezuelan people “in their quest for freedom and democracy.” He says democracy cannot be defeated.

The Trump administration has led calls for countries to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader since January. Earlier, Guaidó took to the streets with activist Leopoldo López and a small contingent of heavily armed troops in a bold and risky call for the military to rise up and oust Maduro.

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9 a.m.

Two of the key allies of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro are denouncing an attempted “coup d’etat” in the country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales issued a call via Twitter Tuesday urging Latin American governments “to condemn the coup d’etat in Venezuela and keep the violence from claiming innocent lives.”

He blamed the U.S. for “provoking violence and death in Venezuela.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez also sent a tweet backing Maduro and calling on the U.S. to “halt aggressions against the peace.”

The U.S. backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been joined in the streets of Caracas by some soldiers and is urging the armed forces to oust Maduro.

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8:50 a.m.

One of the key allies of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is accusing the U.S. of backing a “coup” in the country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales issued a call via Twitter Tuesday urging Latin American governments “to condemn the coup d’etat in Venezuela and keep the violence from claiming innocent lives.”

He blamed the U.S. for “provoking violence and death in Venezuela.”

The U.S. backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been joined in the streets of Caracas by some soldiers and is urging the armed forces to oust Maduro.

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8:30 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the ongoing military uprising in Venezuela with his top security body.

Russian news agencies on Tuesday quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Putin raised the current developments in Venezuela during his scheduled meeting with the Security Council.

Peskov said that the meeting “paid significant attention to the news reports about a coup attempt in that country.”

He did not elaborate further.

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7:35 a.m.

Spain’s caretaker government has called for a bloodless and peaceful transition to a democratic presidential election in Venezuela.

Government spokeswoman Isabel Celaá says the government is following closely developments in Caracas, where the opposition has called for Venezuelans to take to the streets to oust Nicolás Maduro from power.

“We hope with all of our strength that there is no bloodshed. We support a peaceful democratic process in Venezuela. We support the immediate holding of an election for a new president,” Celaá said on Tuesday during a weekly routine press briefing.

Spain has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela but has not cut ties with Maduro’s government.

More than 177,000 Spaniards live in Venezuela, and Spain has become a destination for thousands of Venezuelans escaping the political and economic crisis in recent years.

Celaá said Guaidó has “legitimacy to lead democratic transition in Venezuela.”

“Guaidó represents the alternative,” she added.

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7:10 a.m.

Venezuela’s socialist party boss, Diosdado Cabello, has called on government supporters to amass at the presidential palace to defend Nicolás Maduro from what he says is a small uprising of traitorous military soldiers backed by the U.S.

His comments in a phone call to state TV came after opposition leader Juan Guaidó appeared in a video with a small contingent of heavily armed soldiers and formerly detained opposition activist Leopoldo López calling for Venezuelans to take to the streets to oust Maduro.

Cabello downplayed the significance of the rebellion, saying Caracas is in calm and that the Carlota air base near where the rebellious soldiers are gathered had not been touched.

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7:05 a.m.

The father of prominent Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López says he is expecting a military and popular response following the release of his son in Caracas.

“We are going to see a national call to people and the military to end the usurpation and, well, I hope that the usurpation government will end today,” Leopoldo López, Sr., said Tuesday in a brief telephone conversation from the United States.

His son had been under house arrest for leading an anti-government push in 2014. He said Tuesday he had been freed by the military.

The father, who lives in Spain and has become a prominent voice of the Venezuelan opposition in exile, said that the military were obeying a presidential pardon issued by Juan Guaidó, who is leading the opposition against the government of Nicolás Maduro.

The elder López, who is running for a seat in the European Parliament at the end of May, said he couldn’t comment on whether Tuesday’s developments had been coordinated with the United States or other countries that have backed Guaidó.

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6:50 a.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has taken to the streets with a small contingent of heavily-armed soldiers and detained activist Leopoldo López in a military uprising.

“This is the moment of all Venezuelans, those in uniform and those who aren’t,” said López in his first public appearance since being detained in 2014 for leading anti-government protests. “Everyone should come to the streets, in peace.”

The comments by López came moments after Guaidó appeared in an early morning video shot at a Caracas air base surrounded by several heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles.

Guaido said soldiers who had taken to the streets were protecting Venezuela’s constitution. He made the comments a day before a planned anti-government rally.

“The moment is now,” he said.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Twitter that Nicolás Maduro’s government was confronting a small “coup attempt” led by military “traitors” backed by right-wing opponents.

Tear gas was fired at a highway overpass next to the Caracas air base where several heavily-armed soldiers with a blue band wrapped around their forearms had been standing guard. The tear gas appeared to have been fired from inside the air base.

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6:35 a.m.

Venezuela’s government said it is putting down a small coup attempt by military “traitors” working with right-wing opponents.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez’s comments on Twitter came after opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for a military uprising in a video that showed him surrounded by heavily armed soldiers and accompanied by detained activist Leopoldo López at a Caracas air base.

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6:25 a.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for a military uprising, in a video shot at a Caracas air base showing him surrounded by soldiers and accompanied by detained activist Leopoldo López.

In the three-minute video shot early Tuesday, Guaido said soldiers who took to the streets would be acting to protect Venezuela’s constitution. He made the comments a day before a planned anti-government rally. 

“The moment is now,” he said, as his political mentor López and several heavily armed soldiers backed by a single armored vehicle looked on.

López has been under house arrest for leading an anti-government push in 2014.


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