Top Venezuelan general recognizes Juan Guaido as president, encourages military to defect

Sunday, 03 Feb, 2019

A video disavowing Maduro's rule circulated across social media on Twitter on Saturday, just as Venezuelans are set to hit the streets across the country in support of Guaido, who declared himself the country's temporary leader weeks ago. Top military leaders have helped Maduro survive previous mass demonstrations in recent years by jailing activists and repressing opposition protesters. He enjoys the support of the military and some Venezuelans.

Guaido, Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting president, had sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday, requesting humanitarian aid for "millions" deprived of health care and basic food.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said cooperation between the countries would continue "no matter how the situation changes" in Venezuela.

"That surprised a lot of political figures (but) I don't say that as a criticism", Capriles said.

In a speech to supporters, Maduro said the all-powerful government-controlled Constituent Assembly would debate calling earlier elections for the National Assembly.

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. They form an important voting constituency in a swing state often critical to the outcome of US national elections.

"At this historical moment that our country is going through, to be neutral is to be on the side of the regime that has condemned hundreds of thousands of human beings to misery, hunger and exile - including death", he said.

The opposition leader's statements were more belligerent, however.

Guaido said on Thursday that agents from a feared special police unit had called at his home and asked for his wife, who was at home with their 20-month-old daughter while he was out at an event.

He told Pence and other elected officials that aid efforts need to begin immediately. Threatened US sanctions on Venezuelan oil can ahead weaken the beleaguered country, but some economists say that there is already a better chance the Latin American country can collapse on its own. "Mr. Nicolas Maduro is the head of state and his government is our partner in Venezuela", he stressed, TASS news agency reported.

On a similar note, recently, economists stated that Venezuelan government can topple on its own without the new U.S. sanction.

He stressed in a New York Times op-ed that in order to secure a successful transition of power, the military must withdraw its support for the regime.

But Guaido's moves to court the military are fraught with risk.

So far, the military high command has remained loyal to Maduro. His claim to the presidency is backed by the United States and some two dozen other nations.

The last 10 days of political upheaval have exacerbated economic meltdown in Venezuela, which has the world's largest proven oil reserves but has suffered hyperinflation and shortages of basic necessities.

Meanwhile, streams of marchers in another part of the capital walked from middle-class and poor neighborhoods and said they were demanding Maduro's resignation and a transitional government that would hold new presidential elections in the South American country.