Opposition demonstrators have clashed with security forces in protests against the government of Nicolas Maduro
Caracas (AFP) - Here is a summary of developments in Venezuela since a group of soldiers briefly rose up against President Nicolas Maduro on January 21.
The country is in economic and political crisis, suffering shortages of food and medicine. It has the world's highest inflation rate, forecast to hit 10 million percent this year.
- January 21: Brief military uprising -
A group of soldiers take control of a command post north of Caracas in the early hours. They publish a video on social media saying they "completely repudiate" Maduro's regime and calling on people to take to the streets in their support.
The uprising is quickly put down as the command post is surrounded by soldiers and police. Twenty-seven soldiers are arrested.
The brief rebellion triggers demonstrations of support in a number of neighborhoods in Caracas. Several demonstrators are reported injured.
The same day the Supreme Court, dominated by regime loyalists, takes aim at the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declaring its leadership illegitimate and its decisions invalid.
The National Assembly promises an amnesty to all members of the military who abandon Maduro.
- January 22: US backs opposition -
US Vice President Mike Pence gives his support to Venezuela's opposition on the eve of planned protest marches. He calls Maduro a "dictator" and backs the National Assembly's "call for the establishment of a transition government."
"We stand with you, and we will stay with you until democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad (freedom)," Pence says in a video on Twitter.
In a radio and TV broadcast, Maduro accuses Washington of ordering "a coup from the fascist state".
- January 23: Nationwide protests -
Tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets of Caracas and other cities in rival demonstrations for and against Maduro.
The National Assembly had called an opposition rally against Maduro to mark the anniversary of the 1958 fall of the military dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez.
Clashes erupt in the capital.
The Supreme Court orders a criminal investigation of the assembly for trying to depose Maduro.
- January 23: 'Acting president' -
The head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, proclaims himself "acting president" later on January 23 in front of cheering supporters gathered in Caracas.
"I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections," Guaido declares.
US President Donald Trump immediately issues a statement recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.
Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Peru and several other countries in the region also give their backing to Guaido. The European Union calls for free elections to restore democracy.
But Cuba, Bolivia, Mexico and Turkey say they still support Maduro.
Maduro responds saying he is cutting off diplomatic ties with Washington and gives US diplomats 72 hours to leave Venezuela.
The US State Department says Maduro does not have the authority to sever relations.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino rejects Guaido's declaration. The armed forces "will defend our constitution and are the guarantor of national sovereignty," he says.
- January 24: reactions -
Venezuela's powerful military high command again throws its weight behind Maduro.
The United States calls for a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis on Saturday.
Britain says Maduro is "not the legitimate leader" of Venezuela, while French president Emmanuel Macron hails "the courage of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are marching for their freedom."
Russian President Vladimir Putin calls Maduro and expresses "support for the legitimate authorities of Venezuela in the context of a domestic political crisis that has been provoked from the outside," the Kremlin says.
China, Venezuela's main creditor, "opposes interference in Venezuelan affairs by external forces."
Pope Francis, in Panama, backs "all efforts" that help save the Venezuelan population from further suffering, the Vatican says.
In four days of unrest, 26 people have died, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, a Caracas-based rights group.