Venezuela’s Guaidó appeals to military ‘at air force base’

Grab from Juan Guaido's video uploaded onto Twitter

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Twitter @jguaido

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In the recording, Juan Guaidó appears with military men and another opposition leader, Leopoldo López

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has announced the “final phase” of his attempt to bring about the end of President Maduro’s rule and says he has military support.

In a video apparently recorded at an air force base and published on social media he is seen with men in uniform.

He calls for the military to help him end “the usurpation” of power by Mr Maduro.

The government says it is putting down a small coup attempt.

The military has so far supported Mr Maduro and refused to back Mr Guaidó, who declared himself interim president in January and has backing from several countries, including the United States.

In the video, Mr Guaidó says he has the support of “brave soldiers” in Caracas.

“People of Venezuela, let’s take to the streets (…) to support the end of the usurpation, which is irreversible. (…) The National Armed Forces have taken the correct decision, they have the support of the people of Venezuela, and the backing of our constitution, they are guaranteed to be on the right side of history,” he says.

The video, published on Mr Guaidó’s Twitter account, shows him standing next to another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who has been under house arrest after he was found guilty of inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.

Mr López said that he had been freed by members of the military who had declared their loyalty to Mr Guaidó.

The Venezuelan information minister, Jorge Rodríguez, responded to the events on Twitter, writing that the government was confronting a small group of “military traitors” which according to him were promoting a coup.

Mr Guaidó, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly has been calling on the military to back him ever since he declared himself interim president.

He argues that President Maduro is a “usurper” because he was re-elected in polls that have been widely disputed.

The video appeared to have been recorded at dawn in or near La Carlota air force base in the capital Caracas.

Footage recorded later by Reuters news agency shows Mr Guaidó and Mr López with dozens of uniformed men on a highway in Caracas.

Many are wearing blue armbands signalling their support for Mr Guaidó. The footage shows teargas being fired at the them.

Mr López, who leads the Popular Will party of which Mr Guaidó is a member, urged Venezuelans to join them: “All Venezuelans who want freedom should come here, disrupt order, join and encourage our soldiers, join our people. Good morning Venezuela, let’s do this together.”

US Senator Marco Rubio, a staunch supporter of Mr Guaidó, also took to Twitter to urge the military to give their backing to the National Assembly president.

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