UPDATE 2 — 1/24, 8:59 a.m. EST: Following U.S. announcing support for the newly self-proclaimed president of Venezuelan, Juan Guaido, Nicolas Maduro ordered the ejection of all American diplomats in the country by Saturday.
Following Maduro’s call, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement refusing to comply with the demand: “[T]he United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.”
UPDATE — 1/23, 1:27 p.m. EST: The head of Venezuela’s legislature, Juan Guaido, appointed himself as the country’s new president on Wednesday in a speech as thousands took to the streets of Caracas protesting Nicolas Maduro’s government.
President Trump responded shortly thereafter, declaring official U.S. recognition of Guaido as the country’s interim executive leader.
Already on the verge of chaos, Venezuela’s government resisted further unsteadiness Monday as troops loyal to Caracas routed a rogue unit of national guardsman attempting to overthrow the rule of President Nicolas Maduro.
According to reports, a small group of approximately two-dozen Venezuelan troops broke into a weapons facility early Monday morning. The outpost in which the mutiny occurred is located in the Cotiza District in central Caracas, just miles from the presidential palace.
Armed with weapons, the small band of insurgent troops delivered a message through social media declaring his opposition Maduro, appealing for support from residents and urging citizens to join in the uprising.
In a video obtained by Western media, an enlisted man identifying himself as Third Sergeant Figueroa bellowed:
“You asked to take to the streets to defend the constitution, well here we are! It is today!”
Gathering momentum, the rebel troops drove to a second outpost, took several soldiers manning the camp hostage and seized more weapons.
As word spread of a revolt, government security forces committed to Maduro’s rule swiftly descended on the camp to smash the rebellion. Following the seizure of the second camp, the rebel troops met resistance, were quickly overcome by Maduro’s troops.
Although the rebelling troops were quickly repressed, protests broke out in some neighborhoods in support of the rebellious soldiers. Eyewitnesses say residents in some of Caracas’ poorest neighborhoods burned trash, erected barricades and shouted in demonstration.
Planned protests against Maduro’s rule are also scheduled across Venezuela on Wednesday, along with a pro-government march in Caracas.
A government spokesperson declared early Monday morning 27 insurgent soldiers had been arrested.
In the midst of economic dislocation, Mr. Maduro was recently inaugurated after what many South American nations and the U.S. declared a sham election. Maduro was sworn in for his second term on Thursday, Jan. 10.
Over the past two years alone, Maduro has consolidated power in his hands, stripped the courts of power, and limited the legislative actions of opposition parties in the National Assembly. Venezuela is mired in severe food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and skyrocketing unemployment.
Amid the power grab, a small rebellion broke out in 2017 when a police official, Oscar Perez, declared a revolt. Perez escaped capture, but was killed in a gun battle with five associates by Venezuelan police in January 2018.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publication.
[AP] [The Guardian] [Reuters] [Washington Post]