Venezuela Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Tuesday denied the Venezuelan military is trying to oust President Nicolas Maduro and accused opposition leader Juan Guaido of leading a coup as an agent of the U.S.
“It is not a coup attempt from the military. This is directly planned in Washington, in the Pentagon and Department of State, and by [U.S. National Security Adviser John] Bolton,” Arreaza told Reuters in a phone interview. “They are leading this coup and giving orders to this man Guaido.”
Arreaza repeated Maduro’s claim that the military still supports the Venezuelan government and that violence that has broken out between Maduro’s and Guaido’s forces is the fault of the U.S.
“ is in his place of command as always, and he is in control of the situation. He is making government decisions as he does every day,” Arreaza said. “We are not threatening anyone with the use of violence. It’s the United States, it’s the opposition.”
The U.S. is prepared to provide economic relief to Venezuela, which is under a slew of U.S. sanctions, after the Guaido is installed at interim president, according to a Tuesday statement from the U.S. Treasury.
Arreaza denounced the U.S. Treasury’s statement as “another criminal confession of the Trump government.”
Military personnel have defected to Guaido’s cause and some have joined thousands of protesters in marching on Venezuela’s Presidential Palace, where Nicolas Maduro works while he is in the capital.
Guaido launched the revolt, called “Operation Liberty,” from La Carlota air base near Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, Tuesday morning, calling for a last effort to topple Maduro’s regime and hold new elections for Venezuela’s president. Guaido’s campaign has lasted months and garnered the support of the U.S., Brazil and other countries.
Maduro’s regime has retained the support of Cuba, China and Russia.
Protesters have flooded the streets of Caracas in a show of support for Guaido and to oppose Maduro. Maduro-backed forces have used tear gas to break up crowds of protesters and exchanged gunfire with opposition forces. In one case, Maduro’s military forces plowed into a crowd of protesters with an armored vehicle, appearing to injure several.
Follow updates on the situation in Venezuela here.
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