Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the U.S. supports Operation Liberty, a new movement by Venezuela’s civilian opposition to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.
“Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad,” Pompeo wrote in a tweet. “The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated.”
Guaidó, the opposition leader whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s rightful head of state, was joined by recently released activist Leopoldo Lopez as they called on citizens in a video message to take to the streets to “consolidate the end of usurpation.”
En el marco de nuestra constitución. Y por el cese definitivo de la usurpación. https://t.co/3RD2bnQhxt
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) April 30, 2019
“At this moment, I am with the main military units of our armed forces, starting the final phase of Operation Liberty. People of Venezuela, we will go to the street with the armed forces to continue taking the streets until we consolidate the end of usurpation, which is already irreversible,” Guaidó said in the video.
“Operation Freedom has begun!” Guaidó told a crowd of supporters. “We’re going to stand here together asking and demanding the military to join.”
Melees broke out in Caracas after Guaidó’s call to action, and shots were heard as crowds of citizens carrying Venezuelan flags assembled outside the La Carlota air-force base near the city. There were reports of gunfire exchanges between the soldiers backing Guaidó and troops loyal to Maduro on the military base.
“Venezuelans have made clear that the current path toward democracy is irreversible,” U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton wrote in a tweet. “Venezuela’s military has a choice: embrace democracy, protect civilians and members of the democratically-elected National Assembly, or face more man-made suffering and isolation.”