Backers 'failed to follow through' in abortive Venezuela uprising: Guaido

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 07 2019 08:01 AM

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido prepares for a video recording after a meeting with workers of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in Caracas, Venezuela, May 3, 2019. Manaure Quintero, Reuters

CARACAS -- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said Monday that backers who had pledged support for his abortive uprising last week had "failed to follow through" to dislodge President Nicolas Maduro.

"There were people who failed to follow through," Guaido told AFP in an interview in Caracas, adding that "it doesn't mean that they won't do it soon."

Guaido, recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries, said it was "obvious today, there is widespread discontent from which the armed forces aren't immune."

"There have been discussions... with civil and military officials," he said.

"We are very close to achieving change in Venezuela," he said. 

National Assembly head Guaido, 35, has branded Maduro a usurper over his controversial re-election last year, and in January declared himself acting president, plunging Venezuela into a political crisis that deepened its already grave economic woes.

But Maduro has held firm, bolstered by the continued support of the powerful armed forces.

Guaido, however, expressed the hope that the army would eventually come on board. "We are waiting for many more to join in expressing their discontent and to participate in 'Operation Freedom.'"

Maduro was getting "weaker and weaker" after years of protests against his regime, Guaido said, painting a picture of a leader surrounded by the last vestige of support in his Miraflores presidential palace.

"They say that Maduro is in Miraflores, but they also say that he's in a bunker with a main security ring composed of Cubans and a second ring made up of soldiers from the Casa Militar," Guaido said, referring to Venezuela's elite presidential protection corps.

PROTEST 'FULFILLED'

"He no longer trusts even in his high command, he doesn't even have any trust in his environment."

The attempted uprising set off 2 days of violent clashes between security forces and protesters that left four dead, dozens injured and more 150 people arrested.

Guaido has tried to keep up the pressure with massive street protests, but his latest call for demonstrations Saturday drew only several hundred people.

He rejected suggestions that his opposition movement was flatlining, however.

"On Saturday, I think the protest was fulfilled. A key goal for us was to redirect it towards non-violence," he said.

Maduro, meanwhile, appeared at a military exercise on Saturday with Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who top US officials had said was in on the attempted uprising but backed out.

"I told the generals and admirals yesterday: loyalty, I want an active loyalty," Maduro said in a speech to some 5,000 troops that was broadcast nationally on radio and television.

Tensions in Venezuela have soared since Guaido invoked the constitution to declare himself acting president.

As major world powers have been drawn in, the US has thrown its support behind Guaido and Russia and China have backed Maduro.


© Agence France-Presse