Venezuela's opposition supporters will hold rallies across the country on Saturday to show backing for self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido and to protest against the increasingly isolated socialist leader Nicolas Maduro. Mr Guaido said it was time to put pressure on the Maduro regime, to shift support away from those responsible for oppression and to back efforts to ensure a democratic transition of government took place as soon as possible.
Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself acting president of Venezuela last week, invoking an obscure constitutional rule to open a rare challenge to Nicolas Maduro's claim to the presidency.
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Writing in an opinion piece published in The New York Times, Guaido called Maduro's re-election on May 20, 2018, "illegitimate" and that, by continuing to stay in office, he was "usurping the presidency".
Tension climbed when Guaido declared himself interim president on January 23.
On Tuesday, the government-stacked Supreme Court barred Guaido from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts while chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab, a Maduro ally, conducts an investigation into his anti-government activities.
In a country where the socialist leader's foes often end up behind bars, Guaido has thus far managed to avoid arrest, but in recent days authorities have let it be known that even as his powerful worldwide support grows Guaido isn't untouchable.
Turkey's president, Tayyip Erdogan, has stood by Maduro, calling him last week to express support. "We hope that Venezuela and the USA can respect and treat each other on an equal footing, and deal with their relations based on non-interference in each other's internal affairs", she said.
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"We're in a historic battle", Maduro told several hundred troops standing in formation around armoured vehicles.
"We are aware of the initiative taken by Mexico and Uruguay", said Dujarric.
The U.S. government and Guaido are trying to appoint a new board of directors for Citgo. Last week, street protests turned violent in days of unrest that killed almost three dozen people in clashes with government security forces.
Guaido said, "The family is sacred" and added, "To the functionaries who believe that they can cross the red line, to the functionaries who believe they can act cowardly, involving themselves with the family, because there are all types of codes (of conduct) in all kinds of events".
The U.S. move was backed by most Latin American countries, including right-wing Guatemala and Honduras, while El Salvador and Nicaragua joined fellow left-led Bolivia and Cuba-also targets of U.S. intervention in the 21st century-in supporting their ally Maduro.
In interviews and press conferences, Guaido stresses again and again his team's push to safeguard Venezuela's few remaining assets so that they can be used to fund the flow of humanitarian aid into the crisis-torn country.
Guaido said that he is still sees transparent elections as the best way out of Venezuela's spiraling political crisis, but realizes that Maduro will not easily grant them unless he is pressured to do so by economic sanctions, street protests and Venezuela's military.