Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido today called for a military uprising to begin the "final phase of operation freedom" to end the reign of the country's veteran leader President Nicholas Maduro.
Guaido, who leads Venezuela's national assembly and has been recognised as President by a number of countries, posted a video on social media in which he said the country should "the start of the end of the usurpation".
The call to arms shows the opposition leader addressing the Venzuelan people in a video take in the capital of Caracas while surrounded by a number of members of the military and Leopoldo López, an opposition politician who had been placed under house arrest.
En el marco de nuestra constitución. Y por el cese definitivo de la usurpación. https://t.co/3RD2bnQhxt
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) April 30, 2019
"People of Venezuela, let's take to the streets … to support the end of the usurpation, which is irreversible," he said in the video.
"The national armed forces have taken the correct decision, they have the support of the people of Venezuela, and the backing of our constitution, they are guaranteed to be on the right side of history."
He later posted on Twitter: "The people of Venezuela initiated the end of the usurpation. At this moment I am meeting with the main military units of our armed forces, beginning the final phase of operation freedom."
Guaido has been leading protests against Maduro for months after the opposition-majority National Assembly ruled that Maduro's re-election in 2018 was invalid and declared its leader to be Venezuela's acting president.
Opposition to Maduro's rule stretches back to 2014 when an economic crisis over food shortages and inflation led to widespread street protests. Guaido has already called for a national day of protests for tomorrow, 1 May.
The Venezuelan information minister, Jorge Rodriguez, responded to Guaido's tweet, saying that the government was confronting a small group of "military traitors" who were plotting a coup against Maduro.
Colombia's ambassador has urged any UK supporters of Maduro's regime to “go to Venezuela and look at the conditions that these people are living under”.
“Venezuela is a country that had one of, if not the best, infrastructure in South America, so we’re talking about something that has gone downhill to an incredible degree,” he told City A.M. in an exclusive interview.