Venezuela's Supreme Court Disavows Guaido as Congress Head

Maduro already declared the National Assembly illegitimate in 2017, and created a new legislature - the Constituent National Assembly - to replace it, where all seats are now held by pro-Maduro parties. And he's maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.

Dozens of foreign governments have refused to recognise Maduro's second term, some saying they are ready to recognise Guaido as interim president until fair elections can be held.

"With absolute respect for human rights. but with the strength and firmness. our Bolivarian National Armed Forces respond to attacks against the Fatherland. wherever they come from", tweeted Diosdado Cabello, president of the pro-government Constituent Assembly.

FILE - A man holding a placard that reads "Maduro usurper" takes part in a gathering with members of the Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 11, 2019.

"On behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you, the people of Venezuela, raise your voices in a call for freedom", Pence said in a taped video message in English with a few Spanish words and phrases mixed in.

The National Assembly is a 167-seat legislature, now headed by Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party - a fierce opponent of Maduro, who had been taking part in protests against him and has called for the country's military to depose the president.

Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez said at a Tuesday news conference that investigators recovered most of the 51 stolen weapons.

US Vice President Mike Pence issued a message of support Tuesday to Venezuelans planning to join the marches.

Maduro was inaugurated on January 10 under an avalanche of criticism that his leadership was illegitimate following a 2018 election widely viewed as fraudulent, with countries around the world disavowing his government.

"The struggle will be long", said Ciro Cirino on Altamira plaza, minutes after police on motorbikes charged a crowd of several thousand protesters, firing tear gas to disperse them.

When government security forces surrounded the outpost, several dozen residents barricaded streets and set fire to a auto and piles of rubbish as they chanted "don't hand yourself in".

The ministry said "a small group" of National Guard members had taken four hostages and stolen weapons from an outpost in Caracas' Cotiza neighborhood during a pre-dawn action.

In a televised broadcast from the presidential palace, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with Washington's support.

"We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad". The Trump administration is about to add Venezuela to its list of state sponsors of terrorism, which would carry with it sanctions on the oil industry, the country's last lifeline of support.

The competing demonstrations will come after a whirlwind week that saw an uprising by a tiny military unit, fires set during protests in poor neighborhoods and the brief detention by security forces of the newly installed head of the opposition-controlled congress.

He won controversial snap elections in May that were boycotted by the Opposition and branded fraudulent by the United States, European Union and a dozen Latin American countries.

  • Rogelio Becker