Venezuela crisis: Guaidó ‘considering asking US for military intervention’

The leader of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaidó, said he is considering asking the United States to launch a military intervention in the besieged country.

Speaking with Nick Bryant of the BBC, he said he would “evaluate all options” to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.

Last week he launched a failed attempt to unleash a military rebellion and expel Maduro from power.

The president responded with an address from an army base in Caracas, flanked by soldiers.

Mr. Guaidó declared himself the interim leader of Venezuela in January. As head of the National Assembly controlled by the opposition, he invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.

But Mr. Maduro, who is backed by Russia, China and the military leaders of Venezuela, has refused to relinquish power.

Mr. Guaidó has the support of more than 50 countries, including the US. UU., The United Kingdom and most countries in Latin America, and has told the BBC that the support of the US.

“I think that the position of President [Donald] Trump is very firm, which we appreciate, like everyone else,” he said.

When asked if he would like Mr. Trump and the US military to intervene, he replied that he is “responsible for assessing” the possibility of international intervention, adding: “I, as president in charge of the national parliament, will evaluate all options if necessary. . “

Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday that he was not seeking to involve the US military in Venezuela.

He said that in a call, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had assured him that “he is not trying to get involved in Venezuela, apart from that he would like something positive to happen in Venezuela”, before adding: “And I feel the same way. . “

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered much stronger words to Russia on Sunday, and told US broadcaster ABC that “the Russians must leave.”

“It is very clear, we want the Russians to leave, we want the Iranians to leave, we want the Cubans to leave,” he said.

In response to this week’s clashes, Maduro appeared Friday flanked by soldiers at an army base in Caracas, calling on the armed forces to defeat “any coup conspirator.”

“No one dares to touch our sacred ground or bring war to Venezuela,” he added, in a demonstration of defiance that followed the days of fighting. Four people died in the violence, including two teenagers.

But Mr. Guaidó denies having been defeated, and he tells the BBC that President Maduro “has been losing again and again.”

“I think the only one that really hurts is Maduro,” he said. “He has been losing again and again, he is getting weaker and weaker, more and more alone and has no international support, on the contrary, we gain acceptance, support and future options.”

He also states that it is “clearly visible that the armed forces no longer support Maduro.”

On Wednesday, pro and anti-government sympathizers held demonstrations in Caracas that were initially peaceful.

There were reports of gunfire in the city and a local NGO, the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, said Jurubith Rausseo, 27, had been shot dead during a rally in the Altamira opposition stronghold.

At least 46 people were injured in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

On Tuesday, Mr. Guaidó declared what he called the “final phase” of the operation to overthrow Mr. Maduro. He published a video of him with several uniformed men and said he had the support of “brave soldiers” in Caracas.

He urged Venezuelans to join them in the streets and appeared alongside another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who had been under house arrest after being convicted of inciting violence during the 2014 protests.

The government of Spain later said that López and his family had sought security in his embassy, ​​but said that the opposition figure had not requested political asylum.

An arrest warrant was issued for violating the house arrest order for Mr. López, according to a statement on the Supreme Court website. The order established that Mr. López should continue to serve the rest of his 13 years in prison.

Spain said it had no intention of handing over Mr. López to the Venezuelan authorities.

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