Venezuela’s military attache to the United Nations has recognized opposition party leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, according to U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.
Pressure is mounting on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as more Venezuelan officials defect from the Maduro regime and support Guaido for president of the National Assembly. Venezuela’s military attache, or diplomat, to the United States publicly sided with Maduro’s challenger on Jan. 26, CNN reported.
“Venezuela’s military attaché to the United Nations, Colonel Pedro Chirinos, has announced his official recognition of Juan Guaido as Interim President of Venezuela,” Bolton tweeted Wednesday, along with a video of the announcement. “He has chosen democracy for Venezuelans over Maduro’s tyranny.”
Venezuela’s military attaché to the United Nations, Colonel Pedro Chirinos, has announced his official recognition of Juan Guaido as Interim President of Venezuela. He has chosen democracy for Venezuelans over Maduro’s tyranny. https://t.co/NBtdGBrKot
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 20, 2019
Chirinos’s defection comes two days after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a forceful message to the Venezuelan military.
“The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day, and every day in the future. You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you,” Trump said in a message directed at Venezuelan security forces.
“We seek a peaceful transition of power but all options are open,” Trump said.
Guaido needs the support of the military’s top officers to successfully and more peacefully overthrow Maduro’s regime. Trump and other world leaders such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro back Guaido’s bid for control.
The U.S. placed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil monopoly on Jan. 28 in an effort to cut off funding to Maduro’s government.
Maduro took over the country after former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died of cancer in 2013. Venezuela’s economy began to plummet under Chavez, and Maduro’s regime has overseen worsening food shortages and rampant disease.
Millions of Venezuelans have fled their homes to surrounding countries, causing a humanitarian crisis along Venezuela’s borders as homeless and sick people bring disease and gather by the thousands at shelters.
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