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Caracas Confronts Military Traitors as Guaido Urges End to Maduro's "Usurpation"

© REUTERS / Carlos Garcia RawlinsVenezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognised as the country's rightful interim ruler, speaks during a swearing-in ceremony for supporters in Caracas, Venezuela April 27, 2019
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognised as the country's rightful interim ruler, speaks during a swearing-in ceremony for supporters in Caracas, Venezuela April 27, 2019 - Sputnik International
Venezuela has been embroiled in a political conflict that further escalated after opposition leader, Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim-president of the country. He has repeatedly called on Venezuelan citizens to join rallies to oust elected President Nicolas Maduro, but has failed to attract broad support for his efforts.

Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez has reacted to opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls regarding Venezuelan troops, saying that the government is confronting a small group of "military traitors" attempting a coup in the country. He further called on both civilians and the Venezuelan Army to be on "high alert" in order to thwart the coup attempt.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, attends a meeting with political leaders at a university in Caracas, Venezuela April 1, 2019 - Sputnik International
Venezuelan Authorities Launch Criminal Case Against Guaido

Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir López has denounced Guaido's "Coup movement" and stated that it aims to "fill the country with violence". He further reaffirmed the army's loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro and reported that the situation at all military bases remains normal.

According to a report by the AP, tear gas has been fired on the Caracas highway in front of the airbase, where Guaido appeared with people in military uniforms and opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez.

READ MORE: LIVE UPDATES: Situation in Venezuela as Guaido Calls on Troops to Oust Maduro

The minister's remarks come after Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim-president Juan Guaido published a video with a call for Venezuelan soldiers, as well as citizens, to go to the streets in Caracas to ensure "the definitive cessation of the usurpation" of constitutionally elected President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido, speaking in the video and surrounded by people in military uniforms, stressed that Venezuelan will be fighting "in the nonviolent struggle" to "assume competencies of the government".

The opposition figure claimed on his Twitter that he has already received the support of the country's armed forces and announced a so-called "final phase" in his struggle to oust the Venezuelan president.

"The national armed forces have taken the correct decision, and they count on the support of the Venezuelan people", Guaido said

Reuters reported, citing an eyewitness, that Guaido and a group of around 70 soldiers are standing on a Caracas highway next to a military base. The opposition leader earlier announced that he was filming his video at the La Carlota Air Base.

READ MORE: Guaido Mobilizes ‘Thousands' for ‘Operation Freedom' Under Power Outages Pretext

The last time that Guaido called on Venezuelan citizens to join his so-called Operation Freedom in the wake of a massive blackout in the country, which was a result of sabotage on a power plant, he claimed to have gathered "thousands" of protesters for rallies across the country.

An oil tanker is seen at Jose refinery cargo terminal in Venezuela in this undated file photo - Sputnik International
‘Amazing Feat in Propaganda’: US Support for Guaido Rooted in Thirst for Oil

Despite failing to attract a larger audience in the country, Guaido announced another rally, scheduled for 1 May, promising that it will be "the largest march in Venezuela's history" and the "definitive phase" in deposing elected President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido proclaimed himself interim-president of the country, immediately receiving support from the US and a number of other western states. At the same time many other countries, including Russia, China and Turkey have supported constitutionally elected President Nicolas Maduro.

The latter considers the opposition leader a "US-puppet" and has accused him of organising the sabotage on the country's biggest hydroelectric dam with help from Washington, resulting in nationwide blackouts that lasted weeks.

READ MORE: Sociologist: Guaido Doesn't Have Chance Now of Ousting Maduro

Venezuelan authorities launched an investigation into Guaido's actions early in April, stripping his parliamentary immunity. He has been accused of committing treason with some of his allies also being scrutinised.

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