Mr Guaido has harnessed support from the US, UK, Germany, France and Spain, who have all called for fresh elections in Venezuela. But, the cash-strapped country’s powerful military have rallied around authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro, who refuses to relinquish his hold on power and has used force to suppress dissent. Maduro has maintained his authoritarian regime since being elected in 2013 and has the backing of China, Russia and Iran.
He is locked in a power struggle with the 35-year-old Guaidó, who leads the opposition-controlled National Assembly and has offered amnesty to any military figures who defect to his parallel administration.
In a bold move, Guaidó has called on supporters to disseminate a pamphlet with details about the amnesty proposal during mass protests planned for Wednesday.
Guaidó tweeted: “We must remain united as active agents of change in every corner of the country,”
The Trump administration has declared Maduro’s January election victory illegitimate and cited voter fraud, opposition repression, and other irregularities.
The UK, Germany, and France—have threatened to join the US and officially recognize Guaidó unless Maduro calls for new elections by February 3.
But, Russia and China are keeping the dictatorial Maduro regime in Venezuela afloat.
China has recently invested tens of billions of dollars in Venezuela’s natural resource production infrastructure, and Russia has supplied large quantities of weapons.
This ensures that Venezuela’s military remains strong and, worryingly for Guaidó, it has remained largely loyal to Maduro.
The Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez has backed the dictator, calling him the “legitimate president.”
But cracks are appearing and rogue military units have launched periodic uprisings and even presidential assassination attempts under Maduro.
Last weekend, Maduro suffered a blow when the country’s top military attaché to the US, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, became the first senior military official to defect to Guaidó’s camp.
The colonel urged his colleagues: “Please, brothers, don’t attack our people. The state gave us arms to protect our country, not to touch our equals.”