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U.S. supports efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is saying “We are with you!” to the Venezuelans taking to the streets after opposition leader Juan Guaido called for the military to rise up and oust socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

Pence said in a tweet addressed to Guaido, the National Assembly and “all the freedom-loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in (hash)operacionlibertad–Estamos con ustedes! We are with you!”

He adds that, “America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored.”áá
The U.S. and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader, arguing that Maduro’s re-election was invalid.

Maduro has accused the U.S. of backing a “coup” in the country.

9:50 a.m.

The White House says it is “watching and waiting” on the situation in Venezuela and hoping the result is democracy.

White House counselor adviser Kellyanne Conway says the White House stands with opposition leader Juan Guido, whom the U.S. recognizes as the interim president of the country. Guaido has taken to the streets of Caracas and is calling for a military uprising.

Conway says it’s time for socialist leader Nicolas Maduro to go and that the U.S. is pushing for “a peaceful transition of power.”

Says Conway: “We’re watching and we’re waiting. We hope the result is democracy and freedom for the people.”

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9:30 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration backs Venezuelan congressional leader Juan Guaido in his call for a military uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo says in a tweet that the U.S. “fully supports” Guaido’s call for the start of “Operacion Libertad.” He says the U.S. stands with the Venezuelan people “in their quest for freedom and democracy.” He says democracy cannot be defeated.

The Trump administration has led calls for countries to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader since January. Earlier, Guaido took to the streets with activist Leopoldo Lopez and a small contingent of heavily armed troops in a bold and risky call for the military to rise up and oust Maduro.

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9 a.m.

Two of the key allies of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are denouncing an attempted “coup d’etat” in the country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales issued a call via Twitter Tuesday urging Latin American governments “to condemn the coup d’etat in Venezuela and keep the violence from claiming innocent lives.”

He blamed the U.S. for “provoking violence and death in Venezuela.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez also sent a tweet backing Maduro and calling on the U.S. to “halt aggressions against the peace.”

The U.S. backs opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been joined in the streets of Caracas by some soldiers and is urging the armed forces to oust Maduro.
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8:50 a.m.
One of the key allies of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is accusing the U.S. of backing a “coup” in the country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales issued a call via Twitter Tuesday urging Latin American governments “to condemn the coup d’etat in Venezuela and keep the violence from claiming innocent lives.”

He blamed the U.S. for “provoking violence and death in Venezuela.”

The U.S. backs opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been joined in the streets of Caracas by some soldiers and is urging the armed forces to oust Maduro.
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8:30 a.m.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the ongoing military uprising in Venezuela with his top security body.

Russian news agencies on Tuesday quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Putin raised the current developments in Venezuela during his scheduled meeting with the Security Council.

Peskov said that the meeting “paid significant attention to the news reports about a coup attempt in that country.”
He did not elaborate further.
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7:35 a.m.
Spain’s caretaker government has called for a bloodless and peaceful transition to a democratic presidential election in Venezuela.

Government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa says the government is following closely developments in Caracas, where the opposition has called for Venezuelans to take to the streets to oust Nicolas Maduro from power.

“We hope with all of our strength that there is no bloodshed. We support a peaceful democratic process in Venezuela. We support the immediate holding of an election for a new president,” Celaa said on Tuesday during a weekly routine press briefing.

Spain has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela but has not cut ties with Maduro’s government.
More than 177,000 Spaniards live in Venezuela, and Spain has become a destination for thousands of Venezuelans escaping the political and economic crisis in recent years.

Celaa said Guaido has “legitimacy to lead democratic transition in Venezuela.”

“Guaido represents the alternative,” she added.
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7:10 a.m.
Venezuela’s socialist party boss, Diosdado Cabello, has called on government supporters to amass at the presidential palace to defend Nicolas Maduro from what he says is a small uprising of traitorous military soldiers backed by the U.S.

His comments in a phone call to state TV came after opposition leader Juan Guaido appeared in a video with a small contingent of heavily armed soldiers and formerly detained opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez calling for Venezuelans to take to the streets to oust Maduro.

Cabello downplayed the significance of the rebellion, saying Caracas is in calm and that the Carlota air base near where the rebellious soldiers are gathered had not been touched.
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7:05 a.m.
The father of prominent Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez says he is expecting a military and popular response following the release of his son in Caracas.

“We are going to see a national call to people and the military to end the usurpation and, well, I hope that the usurpation government will end today,” Leopoldo Lopez, Sr., said Tuesday in a brief telephone conversation from the United States.

His son had been under house arrest for leading an anti-government push in 2014. He said Tuesday he had been freed by the military.

The father, who lives in Spain and has become a prominent voice of the Venezuelan opposition in exile, said that the military were obeying a presidential pardon issued by Juan Guaido, who is leading the opposition against the government of Nicolas Maduro.

The elder Lopez, who is running for a seat in the European Parliament at the end of May, said he couldn’t comment on whether Tuesday’s developments had been coordinated with the United States or other countries that have backed Guaido.
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6:50 a.m.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has taken to the streets with a small contingent of heavily-armed soldiers and detained activist Leopoldo Lopez in a military uprising.

“This is the moment of all Venezuelans, those in uniform and those who aren’t,” said Lopez in his first public appearance since being detained in 2014 for leading anti-government protests. “Everyone should come to the streets, in peace.”

The comments by Lopez came moments after Guaido appeared in an early morning video shot at a Caracas air base surrounded by several heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles.

Guaido said soldiers who had taken to the streets were protecting Venezuela’s constitution. He made the comments a day before a planned anti-government rally.

“The moment is now,” he said.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Twitter that Nicolas Maduro’s government was confronting a small “coup attempt” led by military “traitors” backed by right-wing opponents.

Tear gas was fired at a highway overpass next to the Caracas air base where several heavily-armed soldiers with a blue band wrapped around their forearms had been standing guard. The tear gas appeared to have been fired from inside the air base.
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6:35 a.m.
Venezuela’s government said it is putting down a small coup attempt by military “traitors” working with right-wing opponents.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez’s comments on Twitter came after opposition leader Juan Guaido called for a military uprising in a video that showed him surrounded by heavily armed soldiers and accompanied by detained activist Leopoldo Lopez at a Caracas air base.
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6:25 a.m.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for a military uprising, in a video shot at a Caracas air base showing him surrounded by soldiers and accompanied by detained activist Leopoldo Lopez.

In the three-minute video shot early Tuesday, Guaido said soldiers who took to the streets would be acting to protect Venezuela’s constitution. He made the comments a day before a planned anti-government rally.á
“The moment is now,” he said, as his political mentor Lopez and several heavily armed soldiers backed by a single armored vehicle looked on.

-Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for a military uprising against President Nicolas Maduro

Paul Hess

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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