Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday endorsed a military uprising in Venezuela spearheaded by opposition leader Juan Guaidó to overthrow longtime socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.
Troops loyal to Guaidó wore blue bandanas and shot tear gas early Tuesday from inside the Carlota air base, an air force installation in the city of Caracas, The Associated Press reported. Armed national guardsmen and armored vehicles back Guaidó, in addition to hundreds of military members that flipped loyalties to support Guaidó.
Shortly after the operation began, America’s leaders came out in solidarity with Guaidó and his supporters.
“The United States stands with the people of Venezuela,” National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted Tuesday. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan also tweeted out support.
A group of Maduro’s security forces drove up to the airbase on motorcycles after the uprising began and dropped tear gas, prompting an exchange of gunfire between opposition and Maduro forces. No fatalities have been reported thus far, the AP reported.
Hundreds of Venezuelan citizens gathered near the air base to support the uprising that could develop into the strongest attempt to overthrow Maduro the nation has seen.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro salutes as he takes part in a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the return to power of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez after a coup attempt and the National Militia Day in Caracas, Venezuela April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
“I want to tell the Venezuelan people: This is the moment to take to the streets and accompany these patriotic soldiers,” activist Leopoldo Lopez said Tuesday, the AP reported. Lopez said the military freed him early that day. “Everyone should come to the streets, in peace,” he said.
Lopez has been imprisoned since 2014 for leading anti-Maduro protests.
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