Venezuelan protests peter out as Nicolas Maduro hangs on; US and Russia squabble
Updated : May 02, 2019 07:38 AM IST
Venezuelans heeded opposition leader Juan Guaido's call to take to the streets on Wednesday in a bid to force President Nicolas Maduro from power, but there was little concrete sign of change in a crisis that increasingly looks like a political stalemate.
The standoff increased tensions between the United States and Russia, who accused each other of interference in the OPEC-member nation's affairs, however.
Guaido had called for the "largest march" in Venezuela's history and said on Twitter that "millions of Venezuelans" were in the streets in "this final phase" of his move to oust Maduro.
But by late afternoon, many of the protesters in the capital Caracas had drifted home. National Guards fired tear gas at a hardcore of demonstrators who remained, and one injured demonstrator was carried by others to a first aid truck, Reuters video showed.
Despite Guaido's calls for the military to support him, the armed forces' leadership has so far remained loyal to Maduro, who has been in power since his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, died in 2013.
"If the regime thought we had reached maximum pressure, they cannot even imagine," Guaido told thousands of cheering supporters. "We have to remain in the streets."
It was unclear what more Guaido can do at this point. The Venezuelan opposition has often staged huge street protests against Maduro but failed to dislodge him despite a deep economic recession and hyperinflation.
Demonstrators said they were prepared for the process of ousting Maduro to last a long time.
Others are frustrated that nothing has changed more than three months after Guaido, head of the opposition-run National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing that Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate.