Maduro vows to defend Venezuela as Guaido previously pledged
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed this Saturday, 20 years since the Bolivarian Revolution prevailed, to defend the homeland, just as National Assembly leader Juan Guaido did some 10 days ago when he announced he was assuming the position of acting president of the nation.
Both Maduro and Guaido on Saturday held separate rallies in Caracas and from their respective bastions promised to put in order a country that today is weathering an unprecedented economic, political and social crisis.
“I vow, 20 years after the Bolivarian Revolution, to defend our beloved country, maintain its civic-military union, and crush imperialist intervention,” Maduro said before thousands of supporters from west Caracas.
The Chavista leader, who interprets Guaido’s declaring himself the interim president as a coup d’etat planned in Washington, addressed US President Donald Trump to call himself Venezuela’s only president and say he will remain in power “all the days” of his term in office.
The statement came in answer to US spokespersons who asked Maduro to step down, since they recognize Guaido as president of Venezuela and have adopted the argument of the Venezuelan legislature that says Maduro “usurped” the presidency with “fraudulent” elections.
He added that US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton are “hawks” who are “obsessed with Venezuela” and have tricked the US president into thinking the opposition now rules the Caribbean country.
“They fooled you and you, what do you think? The emperor of the world? Do you think Venezuela will knuckle under and obey your orders? Well listen, Venezuela won’t surrender, Venezuela is moving on,” Maduro said.
He repeated that he wants dialogue with the opposition and again thanked Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) for taking steps to promote these talks among Venezuelans.
Guaido, however, made it clear that he will only enter into talks with Chavismo on condition that Maduro cease to “usurp” the presidency, and that he opens the way to a transition government and “free elections.”
“It’s not just about standing behind the constitution as a soldier of the nation. No, your role is to reconstruct Venezuela, enforce sovereignty, drive out the ELN from the Venezuelan border, and establish governability, sovereignty and security,” Guaido said from the platform where he addressed thousands of supporters.
But at the same time Venezuela’s opposition maintained pressure on leftist President Nicolas Maduro with nationwide protests on Saturday, supporters of the leftist head of state were holding a simultaneous pro-government rally in Caracas.
The anti-government demonstrators had taken to the streets to express thanks to the European Parliament for adopting a resolution Thursday recognizing Juan Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-led National Assembly, as interim president.
They also are showing their support for an ultimatum issued by major European nations, including Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom, which say they also will formally recognize Guaido if Maduro does not announce snap elections by Sunday.
The United States and several Latin American countries were the first to recognize Guaido after he proclaimed himself to be Venezuela’s legitimate president on Jan. 23.
Also on Saturday, a Venezuelan air force general said in a video that he recognizes the leader of the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as acting president.
“I appear before you to state that I do not recognize the invalid and dictatorial authority of Nicolas Maduro and I recognize lawmaker Juan Guaido as acting president,” Gen. Francisco Esteban Yanez Rodriguez said in a video shared on social media by opposition lawmaker Luis Florido.
The Bolivarian air force (AMB) quickly responded by calling Yanez Rodriguez a “traitor.”
“It is unworthy for a man of the military to betray his oath of loyalty to the land of Bolivar and to the legacy of Commander Hugo Chavez , by bowing down to imperialist ambitions, GD (general of division) Francisco Yanez TRAITOR,” the air force posted on Twitter.