Juan Guaido has asked his envoy in the US to meet with Pentagon officials to request “cooperation” in resolving Venezuela’s political crisis, the Washington-backed opposition leader said at a rally in Caracas after a failed coup.
“We have instructed our ambassador Carlos Vecchio to meet immediately … with the Southern Command and its admiral to establish a direct relationship,” Guaido said at a rally in Caracas on Saturday as he apparently sought to raise the spirits of his supporters after his attempt to seize power failed last week. “We have said from the beginning that we will use all the resources at our disposal to build pressure.”
The US Southern Command said in a tweet that it is “looking forward to discussing how we can support the future role” of those Venezuelan Navy commanders who would “make the right decision, put the Venezuelan people first & restore constitutional order” by siding with the US-backed self-proclaimed ‘interim president’. SOUTHCOM also said that it “stands ready” to act as soon as it is “invited by Guaido and the legitimate government of Venezuela.”
The crowd of between 1,500 and 2,000 people gathered on the Alfredo-Sadel square, where most demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro take place, according to AFP. Unlike previous rallies that included several thousands people, it didn’t move along the street of Caracas.
“We are at a historic moment: either we are prisoners of fear, despair and inaction (…), or we continue to occupy the street with hope, with strength, with confidence,” Guaido said.
It seems, however, that Guaido’s efforts to seize power in Venezuela have stalled so far. His initial “historic moment” was back in January, when the previously little-known opposition politician, who mostly stayed in the shadow of his prominent political ‘mentor’, Leopoldo Lopez, declared himself an “interim president” of Venezuela and almost immediately received support from Washington and its allies.
He was far less successful inside Venezuela, though, as he failed to garner enough public support to directly challenge President Nicolas Maduro at the polls, whose victory in May 2018 angered Washington. Since then, Guaido did not have much luck in garnering support from the Venezuelan people and the army, which still overwhelmingly supports the legitimate government.
In late April, after months of unsuccessful attempts to make Maduro leave, Guaido called for “decisive actions” against the government in what was essentially a coup attempt. He once again called on the Armed Forces to back him. Even though his call sparked some massive street protests in Caracas, only a handful of military followed him and the coup eventually fizzled, apparently forcing Guaido to seek other ways to seize power.
Guaido has repeatedly said he does not rule out a US military intervention, and even once said he could “authorize” it, sparking rebukes even from some members of the US Congress.