Venezuela: Maduro struggles for power as Guaido calls for more opposition

In a nationally televised address, a defiant Maduro blamed the United States for leading the charge to remove him.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton on Tuesday singled out three senior aides to Maduro who he said must make good on commitments they purportedly made to the opposition for a peaceful transition away from Maduro's rule.

The crowd swelled to a few thousand as people sensed what could be their strongest opportunity yet to overthrow the government after months of turmoil that has seen Maduro withstand an onslaught of protests and worldwide pressure with the support of his top military command and allies such as Russian Federation and Cuba.

"They negotiated for a long time on the means of restoring democracy but it seems that today they are not going forward", said USA envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, while US national security adviser John Bolton said: "All agreed that Maduro had to go".

Several dozen armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers supporting Maduro at a rally in Caracas early on Tuesday, while large anti-government protests in the streets turned violent.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is digging in against what he calls an attempted coup to remove him from power, as opposition leader Juan Guaido calls for yet more insurgency in the streets of Caracas.

Television footage showed one Venezuela National Guard vehicle running over demonstrators who were throwing rocks at the military.

Maduro's government said it's putting down what it callse a small coup attempt by military traitors working with right-wing opponents.

But his security adviser, a retired general, said Guaido's support among the military appeared "weak".

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"Nerves of steel!", Maduro said on Twitter. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace of Miraflores, in Caracas, Venezuela, 08 February 2019.

Leopoldo Lopez was later reported to have joined his family in the Chilean Embassy.

Pence, who has had a lead role in the administration's effort to persuade Maduro to give up power, told the opposition group, "America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored".

Moscow, Maduro's main backer and creditor alongside China, accused Guaido of "fueling conflict" in the oil-rich country.

In his video, recorded outside the La Carlota base, Guaido said the "definitive phase" had begun in his attempt to oust Maduro - who has presided over a catastrophic economic implosion since taking over from his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013.

"Across all of Venezuela, we will be in the streets", Guaido tweeted early on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the United States has imposed sanctions on Caracas in an effort to curb its global oil sales.

Guaido, who is recognised as acting president by more than 50 governments including those of the United States and Brazil, said troops had joined his campaign to oust Maduro, who is backed by China and Russian Federation.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has banned U.S. airlines from flying below 26,000 feet (7,925 meters) in Venezuela's airspace, citing an increase in political instability and tensions.

  • Sonia Alvarado