In Venezuela, the self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó called for new protests. This Wednesday, people across the country should take to the streets against the government of Socialist leader Nicolás Maduro, Guaidó said in a video distributed via Twitter. The army should thereby "stand with the people".
On Saturday, there should be a "big mobilization all over Venezuela and around the world," Guaidó said. This should be the European ultimatum to Maduro reprinted. Several EU countries, including Germany, have given Maduro a deadline of eight days to call new elections. Otherwise, they also want to recognize Guaidó. Maduro has now dismissed the ultimatum at CNN Türk as "impudence".
Already in the past week there had been mass protests in Venezuela. At least 26 people died.
Video: Guaidó vs Maduro - scenes of power in Venezuela
Guaidó, the head of the disempowered parliament, had appointed interim president of Venezuela last Wednesday. Maduro won last year in non-democratic elections and therefore has no legitimacy, he said. It is true that the US and a number of other states have backed Guaidó. Nevertheless, he has no real power position in Venezuela - so he wants to maintain the pressure on the street and pull the military on his side.
How Maduro puts on the side of the military
That is apparently behind Maduro. The politician showed on Sunday demonstratively at the side of the army: Together with Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino visited Maduro a military exercise in which soldiers fired anti-aircraft missiles, tank shells and other ammunition at maneuvering targets. The exercise shows the world that he has the backing of the army and that he is ready to defend the country, Maduro said. The soldiers greeted him with one, "Always loyal, never traitor."
Estamos llamados a garantizar la paz y la independencia nacional en perfecta unión cívico-militar, para derrotar el golpe de estado, y cualquier amenaza and contra de nuestra Patria Sagrada ¡Venceremos! pic.twitter.com/0MLm9V2oDD- Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) January 27, 2019
As Guaidó spreads optimism
On the other hand, Guaidó was also confident. In one of his first interviews since last Wednesday, he told the Guardian he was very confident about the future of the country. "There are risks ... but the reward will be greater." Everywhere smiling people would meet him, said the 35-year-old. "People dare to dream again ... we have awakened from a nightmare." Venezuela now has the unique opportunity to leave the chaos behind.
Guaidó also woos the military, but is aimed primarily at simple soldiers. On Twitter, he published the amnesty law passed by parliament, which assures the military of impunity when they participate in the restoration of the democratic order. "Distribute it to the military in your family, among your friends and neighbors," he wrote. Opposition MPs and student leaders handed the document over to National Guard officials.
The leadership of the military holds so far to Maduro, but in the lower ranks, there is apparently increasingly dissatisfaction. Recently there were several small riots of soldiers. At the weekend, the military attaché of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington Maduro announced his allegiance and joined Guaidó.
Israel and Australia recognize Guaidó as transitional chief of state
The US, Canada and many Latin American countries already recognize Guaidó as a transitional chief of state (read more about why Trump interferes with Venezuela here). On Monday, Israel and Australia joined.
Russia, China, Iran and Turkey, on the other hand, continue to support the socialist president Maduro. On Saturday, Russia and China blocked in the UN Security Council a declaration proposed by the US in support of Guaidó.
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US Security Secretary Donald Trump's security advisor, John Bolton, has warned in a series of tweets of violence against the Venezuelan opposition and US diplomats. Any kind of violence and intimidation against US diplomats, Guaidó, or the opposition-dominated parliament "would be a serious attack on the rule of law" and would cause a "significant reaction".