South American country, Venezuela appears to be heading for war as opposition leader Juan Guaido announces a final move to take power from sit-tight president Nicholas Maduro
Guardian reports that military armoured vehicles are turning away from protesters in some Venezuelan cities, indicating that certain members of the military are with the opposition.
On Tuesday morning, scores of Venezuelan military defectors loyal to Guaidó gathered at the Simón Bolívar border bridge outside Cúcuta, Colombia, to express support for the nascent uprising taking place in Caracas.
The defectors were unarmed and chose not to wear uniforms “out of respect to Colombia” which is hosting them, one national guardsman said, asking not to be named due to the febrile nature of the situation. “We are awaiting orders from our president Juan Guaidó,” he said.
However, with little clear command structure on the border, and the location of the gathering changed from the nearby Tienditas bridge complex at the last minute, the group had largely dissipated hours later.
A steady trickle of Venezuelan military defectors have arrived to the Colombian border city of Cúcuta since February 23, when Guaidó attempted in vain to force US-sent humanitarian aid into Venezuela. Colombian authorities estimate that up to 1000 of Venezuela’s security forces have defected.
Many defectors dreamed of crossing back into Venezuela as an army, assisting with overthrowing Maduro’s government, though reality soon bit.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday accused the opposition in Venezuela of resorting to violence in what it said was a brazen attempt to draw the country’s armed forces into clashes, according to Reuters.
Russia, which has supplied weapons to Venezuela and acted as a lender of last resort, has accused the United States of trying to undermine Maduro, someone Moscow counts as one of its closest allies in Latin America.
“The radical opposition in Venezuela has once again returned to violent methods of confrontation,” the foreign ministry said. “Instead of peacefully settling political differences, they have taken a course designed to whip up conflict, and provoke breaches of public order and clashes involving the armed forces.”
The ministry called on the opposition to renounce violence and embrace negotiations instead, saying it was vital to avoid bloodshed.
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has tweeted support for the uprising, saying the Venezuelan people are “enslaved by a dictator.”
He said Brazil supports “freedom for our sister nation to finally become a true democracy.”