Caracas [Venezuela]:In a televised address on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused protesters siding with opposition leader Juan Guaido of attempting to “attack and overthrow a legitimate government to enslave Venezuela.”
“We have been facing various forms of coup d’etat, due to the obsessive efforts of the Venezuelan right, the Colombian oligarchy and the US empire,” the embattled President said as Guaido declared he was “beginning the final phase of Operation Freedom.”
At least 71 people have lost their lives until now, as Venezuela witnessed one of its bloodiest days ever since the political crisis accelerated with Guaido declaring himself as the President of the nation amid crowds protesting for Maduro to step down earlier this year.
Guaido’s Tuesday call led to protesters collecting at the La Carlota military airbase, where a confrontation between the opposition leader’s supporters and Maduro’s supporters took place, according to CNN. In an apparent show of solidarity with the opposition, a few members of the military, national guard, and armed forces wore blue armbands during the clashes.
42 of the injured were wounded with rubber bullets while two were treated for gunshot wounds at the Salud Chacao Medical Center in Caracas, as per the hospital’s president. The country’s Minister of Defence, Vladimir Padrino, said that a military colonel was also shot during the showdown.
While Guaido has highlighted that Maduro has no military support, the embattled President continues to hold on to his post while reinforcing that the country’s defence forces support him.
Meanwhile, prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was freed from house arrest by forces siding with Guaido on Tuesday. Lopez, along with his family, took refuge at the Chilean Foreign Affairs Ministry as “guests,” only to be shifted later to the Spanish embassy in Caracas.
The United States is keeping a close watch on the developments in Venezuela as Guaido made his most bold attempt yet at ousting Maduro. Washington had immediately extended its support to Guaido, recognising him as the official interim president of the nation.
Other countries like France, Japan, UK sided with the United States in recognising Guaido, while countries like China, Russia and Turkey slammed external interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
Venezuela is also facing an acute economic and humanitarian crisis at the moment, which is worsened by repeated sanctions from the United States. Maduro’s government has continued to deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis in the Latin American nation, blocking off his country from receiving any aid sent by the US. He has also blamed the United States for the blackouts which brought the nation to a standstill recently.