Opposition leader Juan Guaido called for another day of protests today, and he is not publicly backing down from pushing for what he called the “Final Phase of Operation Freedom,” despite a lack of support from Venezuela’s military.
Even though hundreds of people took part in protests—for both Guaido and Maudro—on Tuesday, what Guaido really needed was the support of the military. Venezuela’s defense minister came out hours after Guaido’s call for a “military uprising” and he said that other than a few dozen soldiers who initially accompanied Guaido, there didn’t appear to be much of a military uprising.
While Maduro called yesterday’s protests a failed coup attempt, National Security Adviser John Bolton insisted this is not a coup, because the U.S. has already declared that Guaido is the rightful president of Venezuela. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also commented on the situation, and he found a way to incorporate Russian involvement.
“We literally had Nicolas Maduro getting prepared to get on his airplane and head out of the country before he was stopped. Stopped really at the direction of the Russians,” Pompeo said.
So, at the time when Maduro was releasing statements and saying that he had spoken to Venezuela’s senior military officers and that they assured him of their loyalty, Pompeo is claiming that Maduro was actually on a plane, preparing to flee the country. BUT he was stopped only by a call from Russia, directing him to stay in his country. Maduro has since denied the claims, and we have yet to see any evidence that Pompeo is correct.
Even with the threat that he could be arrested at any time, Guaido was seen publicly marching with the crowd yesterday. The Venezuelan government has refrained from arresting him so far, but Maduro did say that he plans to go after the organizers of yesterday’s rally, and if there is another round of protests today, there is a chance that Guaido could be arrested.
At the same time, U.S. officials have repeatedly said that “all options are on the table,” and both Guaido and Maduro seem to be acting with that warning in mind.