Speed Reads

crisis in venezuela

Venezuela's Maduro claims to have thwarted 'coup,' while opposition urges new massive protests

After a confusing 24 hours of dueling protests and rival claims of military backing, Venezuela ended up Wednesday morning roughly where it started the day Tuesday: Deeply divided, with President Nicolás Maduro in charge.

Maduro, sitting next to the heads of the armed forces, said in a televised address Tuesday night that his troops had thwarted a putsch by Venezuela's "coup-mongering far right," backed by the "deranged" Trump administration. He said the "serious crimes" of the opposition would "not go unpunished" and denied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assertions that he had been on the cusp of fleeing to Cuba, saying, "Señor Pompeo, please."

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized as interim president by the U.S. and much of Europe and Latin America, said that the "peaceful rebellion" was not over, and he urged supporters to flood the streets again on Wednesday for the "largest march" in Venezuelan history. "We know that Maduro does not have the backing or the respect of the armed forces," Guaidó said in a message posted to social media Tuesday evening. "We have seen that protest yields results."

Guaidó's video message "was a motivational pep talk that felt hollow," and his claim that Maduro lacks military support was belied by Maduro's address, writes BBC South America correspondent Katy Watson. "This is seen by many as another failed attempt by the opposition to take power," though Maduro's "future is not secure either."

"There's no doubt that across the country, and within its governing bureaucracy, there is profound discontent with Maduro and broad support for a transition," Bloomberg News reports. But Tuesday's events were "so bizarre — with Guaidó seemingly lacking the military might to have any chance at all — that it was hard to understand the day's events." Something didn't go right for the opposition, and "while likely not a fatal blow to Guaidó and the three-month-old push to unseat Maduro, it was certainly the biggest setback yet."