Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido says the “final phase” of a plan to oust Nicolas Maduro will continue on Wednesday, despite the embattled president claiming that a “coup attempt” had been defeated.
“Tomorrow we will continue with the execution of Operation Freedom. We are beginning the final phase and we will have a strong presence in the streets until the usurpation is over,” Guaido said on Twitter late on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Leopoldo Lopez, a key opposition leader who was freed from jail by military sympathizers amid the unrest on Tuesday, was reported on Wednesday to be in the Spanish embassy in Caracas.
Spanish daily El Pais reported that Lopez, his wife Lilian Tintori and his daughter were being hosted by Spanish Ambassador Jesus Silva Fernandez, citing information from the government in Madrid.
The family had previously sought refuge in the Chilean embassy, but Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero confirmed that they had moved, saying that it was a personal decision on the part of the family because the Chilean mission was already hosting other guests.
Dozens of injuries were reported on Tuesday after heavy clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.
Maduro called the protests a “coup attempt,” claiming the opposition was trying to spark an armed confrontation between Venezuelans to justify a foreign intervention.
He added that he has the “total loyalty” of the army amid claims by Guaido that the military was no longer behind the “dictator” Maduro.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Guaido’s US envoy Carlos Vecchio denied that the opposition had attempted a coup.
“I want to be very clear to the international community. This is not a military coup. This is a constitutional process led by the Venezuelan people under the leadership of a civilian, the interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido,” Vecchio told reporters.
Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president, including the US.
He has been trying since January to topple Maduro, who won a second term in a disputed election last year and has presided over an economic meltdown.
Maduro has been able to hang on to power thanks to the support of the vast majority of the army, though more than 1,000 soldiers have defected to Colombia.