Thousands of demonstrators are set to return the streets of Venezuela on Tuesday to continue what they call a historic mutiny against Nicolás Maduro.
“It is time to unite and to fight,” tweeted Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who is spearheading the latest uprising against Maduro.
Student demonstrators will march through major Venezuelan cities on Tuesday morning in support of Guaidó, who is now recognized as Venezuela’s interim leader by dozens of western governments including Britain, Germany, France and, crucially, the United States.
A pro-Maduro counter-march is also planned in the capital, Caracas.
Jenneth Frías, whose son was killed during anti-Maduro protests exactly five years ago, said she was convinced her country was entering a new political era.Advertisement
“This is our year. This is the year of freedom. This is the year in which Venezuela will start to change,” claimed Frías, whose son, Bassil da Costa, died on 12 February 2014.
As well as Maduro’s exit, protesters are also demanding humanitarian aid being stockpiled just over Venezuela’s border with Colombia be allowed in, to alleviate a humanitarian crisis that has forced millions of Venezuelans overseas.
Maduro has rejected that aid operation as a “poisonous” ploy to undermine his administration by his US-backed foes. On Tuesday, Maduro’s second-in-command, Diosdado Cabello, visited the border region and accused Venezuela’s “traitorous” opposition of seeking to bring bloodshed and violence to the region.
“It is neither aid, nor is it humanitarian!” Cabello, the president of Maduro’s all-powerful constituent assembly, told a rally of supporters.
Maduro has shown little sign of budging since the crisis began three weeks ago and has sought to project calm and control despite the unprecedented challenge to his six-year rule.
On Monday night he took to the stage in a hotel in central Caracas to launch a tourism campaign called “Venezuela: Open to the Future”.
Donald Trump last month warned US citizens not to visit Venezuela, and the British foreign office advises against all but essential travel there. But Maduro claimed now was the ideal time for such an initiative, with Venezuela “at the eye of a geopolitical hurricane” and dominating the global headlines.
“Venezuela is open to all that is good, to hope, to the arrival of better times,” Maduro told an audience that included the Chinese ambassador, Li Baorong. “Venezuela is open to the 21st century.”
Maduro, who was re-elected last May in elections widely condemned as fraudulent, is not without popular support.
In recent days devotees have taken to the streets to sign a petition decrying what the government calls an “imperialist” push to unseat their leader and steal Venezuelan oil.
“They want to intervene because we have the greatest riches on earth,” complained JaimeGonzález, 75,a retiredcarpenter. “They want to invade to take all of these riches off us.”