Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday endorsed a military uprising in Venezuela spearheaded by opposition leader Juan Guaidó to overthrow longtime socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.
Troops loyal to Guaidó wore blue bandanas and shot tear gas early Tuesday from inside the Carlota air base, an air force installation in the city of Caracas, The Associated Press reported. Armed national guardsmen and armored vehicles back Guaidó, in addition to hundreds of military members that flipped loyalties to support Guaidó.
Shortly after the operation began, America’s leaders came out in solidarity with Guaidó and his supporters.
To @jguaido, the National Assembly and all the freedom-loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in #operacionlibertad—Estamos con ustedes! We are with you! America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored. Vayan con dios! #FreeVenezuela
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 30, 2019
Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad. The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated. #EstamosUnidosVE
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 30, 2019
“The United States stands with the people of Venezuela,” National Security Adviser John Bolton also tweeted Tuesday.
A group of Maduro’s security forces drove up to the airbase on motorcycles after the uprising began and dropped tear gas, prompting an exchange of gunfire between opposition and Maduro forces. No fatalities have been reported thus far, the AP reported.
Hundreds of Venezuelan citizens gathered near the air base to support the uprising that could develop into the strongest attempt to overthrow Maduro the nation has seen.
— Flawless Kings Entertainment. (@KingsFlawless) April 30, 2019
— Jay Talivo (@JTalivo) April 30, 2019
Lopez has been imprisoned since 2014 for leading anti-Maduro protests.