The long-threatened violence in Venezuela began in earnest on Tuesday after Juan Guaido and another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez appeared in a three-minute video urging Venezuelans to rise up against Nicolas Maduro. This triggered a day of clashes and injuries.
Maduro remains defiant, claiming at the end of Tuesday that he had repelled a coup attempt. Maduro insists he is the rightful leader of the country, having decisively won the most recent election. Guaido is recognized as the interim leader by more than 60 countries including most of South and Central America, the United States, the EU and Canada, due partially to actions associated with the election (such as jailing opposition leaders and forcing people to monitored polls.)
Months of maneuvering and occasional bursts of violence were shifted into active fighting on Tuesday, with citizenry flooding the streets and soldiers moving against them. Dozens of Venezuelan National Guard are known to have shifted sides during the conflict, moving to fight against Maduro. This is not the first time such loyalty shifts have happened, as reported earlier this year by the New York Times. No credible reports have come of soldiers or citizenry shifting allegiance to Maduro, bolstering the case that Guaido is representing the will of the Venezuelan people.
While there are known to be injuries, the extent of them are uncertain, particularly after Maduro shut down international broadcasts including those from BBC and CNN. This occurred following reports on soldiers using tear gas against protesters and a military truck running over protesters, as shown by Canada’s Global News.
The United States, via Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has claimed that Maduro is being urged to remain in Venezuela by Russia. Reuters reports that Russia is officially denying that assertion, calling it part of an “information war”.
Maduro is being directly aided by Cuban soldiers in his efforts to retain control of the country. President Donald Trump has threatened an embargo of Cuba in retaliation for continued interference from their military.
Despite Maduro’s assurances of having weathered the uprising, Guaido is pressing forward, issuing words of encouragement this morning via Twitter.
The translation, via Twitter: Good morning! Today we continue, these are the points of concentration today in Caracas. We are still stronger than ever in Venezuela. #VamosConTodo