Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido faces a crucial test for his support on Wednesday, then calling for “the greatest march in history” to try to oust President Nicolas Maduro, although the military has had so far, resisted calls to help topple the government.
In his most daring initiative to gain support from the armed forces so far, Guaido appeared Tuesday morning at an air base outside Caracas with dozens of National Guard members, sparking a day of violent protests that left more of 100 wounded, but without any concrete signal of desertions in the leadership of the Armed Forces.
“Today we continue,” Guaido said in a tweet Wednesday morning. “We will move forward with more force than ever, Venezuela.”
Finding out if attending the march will rise to such high hopes will be a crucial test for Guaido amid some supporters’ frustration that Maduro remains in power more than three months after Guaido invoked the constitution to take up an interim presidency, arguing that the re-election of Maduro in May 2018 was illegitimate.
Although Guaido has garnered support from the United States and most Western countries, the Armed Forces has been with Maduro, who still has allies including Russia, China and Cuba.
This frustrated Guaido’s intention to assume daily government functions on an interim basis, which he said would open space for the convening of new elections.
Maduro qualifies Guaido, who commands the National Assembly of opposition majority, as a puppet of the United States that tries to orchestrate his defeat.
On Wednesday, Russia denied a statement made earlier by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Maduro was prepared to leave the country but quit after Moscow intervened. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters that the comments are part of an “information war”.
In a television interview on Wednesday, Pompeo said a US military action is “possible” in Venezuela, but that the Trump government would prefer a peaceful transfer of power.
On Tuesday night, the US Federal Aviation Administration banned US air operators from flying below 26,000 feet in Venezuelan airspace, citing political instability.