Washington: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke with Venezuela’s self-declared interim President Juan Guaido to “congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency” and termed the fresh wave of protests in the country as a “fight for freedom”.
Taking to Twitter, Trump said, “Spoke today with Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido to congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency and reinforced strong United States support for Venezuela’s fight to regain its democracy….”
“….Large protests all across Venezuela today against Maduro. The fight for freedom has begun!” read another tweet.
The protests come in the wake of Venezuela’s Supreme Court freezing Guaido’s bank accounts and imposing a travel ban on him. The country’s attorney general also announced that the opposition leader was under investigation.
Guaido called for Venezuelans to gather on the streets for two hours on Wednesday in the first mass mobilisation since last week’s protests.
The UN human rights office stated that security forces in Venezuela apprehended over 700 people in a single day of the protests last week, which was the highest tally in the country for the past 20 years. Over 40 people were reportedly killed during the violence during the mass protests.
Venezuela has been struggling to overcome a political crisis amid the opposition’s refusal to recognize last year’s re-election of President Nicolas Maduro. On January 22 the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared the president a usurper, with Guaido proclaiming himself Venezuela’s interim president the next day.
Maduro has called Guido a US puppet and has accused Washington of plotting a coup in Venezuela. The beleaguered leader has also accused the US of ordering his assassination.
Dozens of countries, including the US and some of its allies, have recognized Guaido as the acting Venezuelan president, while Russia and China, among others, have reaffirmed their support for Maduro as the legitimately elected head of state.