Tense atmosphere in Venezuela in the wake of new protests

epaselect epa07539028 Supporters of President of the Venezuelan Parliament Juan Guaido rally at the Venezuelan Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 30 April 2019. After some military personnel joined him, Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido has asked supporters on the same day to take to the streets in order to end the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido also asked Venezuelans abroad to protest in front of their embassies. EPA-EFE/Orlando Barria

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Juan Guaidó has appealed for his supporters to take to the streets of Venezuela again on Wednesday, after a day of violent clashes on Tuesday.

His call followed a day of clashes across the country with live rounds being fired and armoured vehicles being driven into protesters.

Venezuelans take to the streets after Guaido called for mass anti-government protests backed by the military
Members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces with firearms participate during in a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela, 30 April 2019. Reports state that at least one person was injured during the clashes at La Carlota after Guaido called for mass anti-government protests backed by the military. Photo: (EPA-EFE/Miguel Gutierrez)

President Nicolas Maduro, whom the opposition leader is trying to unseat, remains defiant despite the protests.

In a television address he described Guaidó’s supporters as a “small group” whose plan had failed and vowed to punish those responsible.

Meanwhile, the US administration alleges Mr Maduro had been ready to travel to Cuba to escape the unrest.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Maduro was ready to go into exile in Cuba but was persuaded by Russia to stay.

President Donald Trump has called on Cuba to immediately cease its military support for Venezuela. Trump threatened a full and complete embargo and sanctions on Cuba if the country refused to stop providing Venezuela with military support.

In another development, Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) – Venezuela’s feared secret police – has turned his back on disputed President Nicolas Maduro in an open letter made public Tuesday night.

In the letter, Figuera wrote that while he always had been loyal to Maduro, “the time has come to seek new ways of doing politics” to try and “rebuild the country.” The letter did not mention Guaidó by name but did say that Venezuela has experienced a damaging decline.

Earlier, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the Trump administration was waiting for three key officials — Maduro’s defence minister, the chief judge of the supreme court and the commander of Maduro’s presidential guard — to act on what he said were private pledges to remove the beleaguered Venezuelan leader.





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