Venezuela's Maduro says attempted coup defeated in TV broadcast with military leaders
Updated 15:15, 01-May-2019
CGTN
00:32

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appeared in a state television broadcast on Tuesday night together with Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, saying the opposition's attempted coup was defeated.

"I want to congratulate you for the firm, loyal and courageous attitude with which you have led the defeat of the small group that tried to fill Venezuela with violence," Maduro said.

"Factors from the right wing of the Popular Will terrorist party led the coup d'etat," he said, referring to the opposition.

This is Maduro's first public appearance since the opposition called for a military uprising earlier in the day, showing he has strong military loyalty.   

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to senior military officials during a broadcast at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to senior military officials during a broadcast at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Earlier, opposition leader Juan Guaido said he had the support of troops to oust Maduro. The U.S. side also indicated that Vladimir Padrino is one of Maduro's top aides in talks with Guaido.

Guaido has made his strongest call yet to the military to help him oust Maduro.

Speaking in a video message released on social media, Guaido called for a fresh round of protests Wednesday against Maduro. "I am calling on the armed forces to continue their march in 'Operation Freedom.' Tomorrow, May 1, we will continue... across all of Venezuela, we will be on the streets."

Earlier on Tuesday, several dozen armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers supporting Maduro at a rally in Caracas, and large anti-government protests in the streets turned violent.

But by Tuesday afternoon an uneasy peace had returned and there was no indication that the opposition planned to take power through military force. 

Pompeo: Maduro plans to fly into exile in Cuba

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that Maduro was prepared to leave the country on Tuesday morning in the face of a call for an uprising by Guaido, but reversed his plan after Russia intervened.

"They had an airplane on the tarmac. He was ready to leave this morning, as we understand it. Russians indicated he should stay," Pompeo told CNN in an interview. "He was headed for Havana."

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to his supporters in Caracas, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to his supporters in Caracas, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Pompeo declined to specify the source of his information but said the U.S. was talking to "scores and scores of people on the ground" as well as looking at open-source material. The United States has had "many, many conversations that have given us every indication that the fact that Maduro's plane was parked on the tarmac and he was preparing himself to depart is a fact," he said.

Pompeo also said the U.S. knew that three senior Venezuelan leaders including the defense minister had planned to oust Maduro and support Guaido.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said the United States would hit Cuba with sanctions and an embargo if it continued its military support for Maduro's government. "If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba," Trump said on Twitter.

"Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!" 

'It's U.S. propaganda'

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton on Tuesday singled out three senior aides to Maduro who he said must make good on commitments they purportedly made to the opposition for a peaceful transition away from Maduro's rule.

Bolton named Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, Supreme Court chief judge Maikel Moreno and presidential guard commander Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala as having told the opposition that Maduro needed to give up power to opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Tear gas near the Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase "La Carlota," in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Tear gas near the Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase "La Carlota," in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo

But he did not offer evidence that three of Maduro's top loyalists had expressed a willingness to turn against the president.

Venezuela's UN Ambassador Samuel Moncada rejected Bolton's remarks as "propaganda."

Padrino said in a broadcast that the armed forces would continue to defend the constitution and "legitimate authorities," and that military bases were operating as normal. Moreno issued a call for calm on Twitter.

Tens of thousands of people reportedly marched in Caracas in support of Guaido early on Tuesday, clashing with Maduro's supporters and riot police.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Tuesday's protests had been "directly planned" in Washington.

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday accused the Venezuelan opposition of resorting to violence in what it said was a brazen attempt to draw the country's armed forces into clashes. Turkey also criticized the opposition.

The United Nations and other countries urged a peaceful solution and dialogue.

(With inputs from Reuters, AFP)

(Cover: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a broadcast with senior government and military officials at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo)