Venezuelans stage second pro-Guaido rally in Madrid

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Earlier in the day, Venezuela's opposition leader and self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, * a href="*/stories/219568#story-detail--verification-section-location" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener" *said that members of the armed forces had joined him in what he called "Operation Freedom", his bid to end the what he called the "usurpation" of government by President Nicolas Maduro.

"It's totally clear now the usurper has lost", Guaido proclaimed, a declaration belied by events on the ground.

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro said he had received information of fractures within the Venezuelan army that could lead to the "collapse" of Maduro's government.

Seeking to appeal to Maduro's traditional base among the working class, Guaido said on Wednesday in Caracas he would consider a proposal from public workers to call for a series of stoppages leading up to a general strike.

Anti-government protesters clash with the National Guard near the La Carlota airbase in Caracas, Venezuela.

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Guaido - whom the USA and 53 countries recognize as the nation's legitimate leader - called for further protests in a statement on social media last night. Will Venezuela be one more such war? Some analysts predicted that would make Maduro more emboldened.

A defiant Maduro, who had been absent throughout most of Tuesday, emerged on state television late at night surrounded by his closest advisers and blasting Guiado's move as a USA -backed coup attempt.

On Tuesday, Guaido, whom many countries recognize as the president of the South American nation, publicly called for the military to back him to force Maduro from power, sparking protests and violence.

On the same day, the White House National Security Council held a meeting on the next steps facing the political turmoil in Venezuela. He has also blamed the United States for the blackouts which brought the nation to a standstill recently. A spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry denied that.

"There is no proof there was a Russian plane there", she said. The U.S. has been urging Russian Federation not to get involved in the Venezuelan conflict, following a longstanding U.S. policy of trying to prevent European influence in Latin America dating back to the President James Monroe, and the Monroe Doctrine.

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With fewer levers left to pull and protests apparently petering out on Wednesday, President Donald Trump could suffer a setback if Guaido's latest push fails to ignite a broader uprising against Maduro. Secondly, military intervention has not been ruled out by President Trump.

"If that's what's required, that's what the United States will do", though he reiterated that the USA would prefer a peaceful transition of power. "We've been in this for years". "Long live the power of the Constituent!"

"Over the expanse and length of Venezuela, we will be in the streets", Guaido said.

He also lashed out at the United States, saying the Government has been facing "various forms of coup d'etat" due to the "obsessive efforts of the Venezuelan right, the Colombian oligarchy and the United States empire".

"As President [Trump] said-they gotta go-and the Russians need to have the cost for that race", he said.

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President Maduro must be keeping in mind the fact that Guaido's efforts are also backed by USA, which was one of the first countries to recognize him as an interim President. He likened opposition leaders to "walking zombies". Government workers wearing the socialist party's red waited to be bused from state offices to a rally at the presidential palace. But in a possible sign that Maduro's inner circle could be fracturing, the head of Venezuela's intelligence agency wrote an open letter breaking ranks. While Maduro maintains a devout core of fervent supporters first inspired by his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, attendance at such shows of support is viewed as a requirement of their jobs.