The leader of Venezuela’s opposition, Juan Guaido, declared Tuesday morning he was “beginning the final phase of Operation Freedom” after an early morning speech in which he was flanked by men in military fatigues and armored vehicles in the capital city of Caracas.
Guaido appeared with opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez who had been jailed since 2014 before being freed overnight by members of the military.
“This is the moment of all Venezuelans, those in uniform and those who aren’t,” said Lopez in his first public appearance since being detained for leading anti-government protests. “Everyone should come to the streets, in peace.”
Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez called Guaido’s action a “coup” on Twitter, adding that the government is “deactivating a small number of traitorous military personnel.”
“We call on the people to remain in maximum alert so that, together with the glorious Bolivian armed forces, we defeat this attempted coup and preserve peace. We will win,” he said.
Tear gas was fired at a highway overpass near the Caracas air base where Guaidó and several heavily armed soldiers with blue bands wrapped around their forearms had been standing guard, the Associated Press reported.