Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has congratulated the country's military for "defeating" the plotters of a coup after a day of protests called on by opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Addressing the nation following a sustained attempt by Juan Guaido and the opposition to oust him from power, the country's elected leader has thanked the armed forces for defeating a "small group that tried to fill the country with violence".
|Maduro congratulates military on 'defeating' coup attempt.
Confirming that his government has faced several "modalities" of a coup d'état, Maduro pinned Tuesday's violence on the US, who the president believes masterminded the failed attempt to overthrow his government. "The self-proclaimed, Juan Guaido, and Leopoldo López personally led the coup d'état," Maduro said.
The president also announced the appointment of "three special prosecutors" to examine "criminal" actions by the opposition, noting that "we have colonels wounded by bullets and in intensive care," following the violence instigated by dissidents.
Some of the protests were peaceful and others led to intense skirmishes, yet fatalities were avoided throughout the day. A few dozen people were injured by rubber bullets, tear gas and –allegedly– live ammunition. An armored vehicle was also recorded ramming into a cluster of Guaido supporters.
At least five soldiers and two colonels were also injured in clashes, after being shot by coup plotters, Maduro claimed. At the onset of violence, Venezuela’s Defense Minister had warned early in the day that the army would resort to force if necessary, during the ongoing US-backed coup attempt.
Those military officers who answered Guaido's calls for regime change in the country, Maduro noted, were lured by the opposition "under false pretenses", but once they came to their senses they "left the coup leaders alone" and surrendered.
In the televised address, Maduro also made public the appointment of Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez as the head of the Sebin intelligence agency.
Maduro defended the use of force, saying the opposition planned to turn the country into a "civil war." The president also vowed Venezuela would stay on course for a Bolivarian revolution and to fight the interventionist Monroe doctrine promulgated by the US.RT
Just before Maduro addressed the nation, Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido called on his followers to continue the coup attempt, which began on Tuesday morning. The US-backed politician also called on the military to "keep advancing" in its efforts to oust Maduro from office.
While the opposition leader claimed that more officers were ready to desert, Maduro stated that 80 percent of troops involved in the mutiny attempt had abandoned Guaido, with only a small group of about 20 officers “handing over their souls to the coup-mongering far right.”
"As of now, there is no indication of any military support outside of this very small detachment of troops," reporter Lucas Koerner told RT America from Caracas, claiming that many officers had been deceived into believing that Tuesday's events were a "drill led by the government."
"None of them are ranking officers that command troops of any standing, therefore they are largely irrelevant," Koerner added.