Venezuela says opposition party linked to failed military revolt

At a rally on Wednesday in the east of the capital Caracas that drew hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, Guaido accused Maduro of usurping power. And he's maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.

U.S. officials are considering a range of potential measures, including restricting United States imports of Venezuelan oil or even a full ban, to punish Maduro's government but no final decisions have been made as Washington closely watches the street protests unfolding in the country, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

In addition, the Trump administration is weighing tougher financial sanctions on Venezuela, while a dozen, mostly conservative Latin American and Caribbean governments said they will block officials from Maduro's government from entering their countries and take steps to freeze assets that are the by-product of corruption.

Juan Guaido, the newly elected president of the opposition-led legislature, has orchestrated today's protests, in part to legitimise his claim to be Venezuela's interim president-a claim predicated on the view that Maduro's re-election was illegitimate.

Guaido, who was elected to head Congress on January 5, has said he is willing to replace Maduro as interim president if he has the support of the military, with the aim of then calling free elections.

Twenty-five soldiers staged a pre-dawn raid on a national guard outpost in the capital Caracas not far from the presidential palace.

The disturbance early on Monday started after a group of men dressed in military fatigues and carrying assault weapons published a series of videos on social media saying they won't recognise Maduro's government.

While Pence says he is delivering the message on behalf of Trump and the American people, the USA president does not participate in the video.

Most of the protests took place in socially disadvantaged areas and some involved the blocking of streets and burning of garbage, the Social Conflict Observatory said. The smell of tear gas lingered in the air.

The opposition-controlled congress's head, Juan Guaido, said the uprising was a sign of the armed forces' depressed state of mind.

"Maduro is completely isolated from Venezuelans, from the worldwide community and something that has started to happen, he is going isolated by the armed forces which is the only piece of the puzzle that we need to start the transition in Venezuela", Smolansky added.

They surrendered after the command post was surrounded by police and military units, with 27 people arrested.

Venezuelans will take to the streets on Wednesday as the opposition hopes to capitalize on several weeks of momentum and force a change in the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who has overseen economic collapse and the erosion of democracy.

"You wanted us to light the fuse, so we did".

Opposition leaders and exiled dissidents have called on the armed forces to turn against Maduro, which the president has denounced as efforts to encourage a coup against him.

In the Chacao district of eastern Caracas, a traditional opposition bastion, a dozen protesters spoke of a renewed confidence in dislodging Maduro and predicted a new wave of demonstrations.

On Monday, the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled the National Assembly is illegitimate, and that no law discussed in the legislative body holds any legal value.

  • Joey Payne