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Heavy clashes in Caracas

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After opposition leader Guaidó has called for demonstrations, serious clashes have occurred in Venezuela. An armored vehicle rolled over several people. Guaidó insists that more military overrun.

After the liberation of the opposition leader Leopoldo López, there have been serious clashes between government opponents and security forces in Venezuela. In the capital Caracas an armored vehicle drove in front of the La Carlota Air Force Base in a group of demonstrators. According to the AFP news agency, there were several casualties. Also shots were fired – from whom or from where they came is unclear.

Thousands of demonstrators had come to the base. Some were armed with sticks and Molotov cocktails, throwing stones at National Guardsmen. The security forces fired tear gas cartridges into the crowd.

According to government figures, a soldier suffered a gunshot wound. Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino wrote in the short message service Twitter that a National Guard colonel had been injured by a gunshot wound on a road near the base. He blamed the opposition leadership for it.

Call of Guaidó

Self-appointed interim President Juan Guaidó called for demonstrations at the military base. He said he had received the support of parts of the army in the power struggle with the controversial head of state Nicolás Maduro. Previously, the detained for years opposition leader Leopoldo López had been freed by renegade soldiers from house arrest.

López has sought protection in the residence of the Chilean Ambassador in Caracas, according to the Chilean Foreign Minister. López, his wife and daughter are guests on the diplomatic mission, said Roberto Ampuero on Twitter.

Guaidó said his „Operation Liberty“ is now entering the crucial phase. Through video and Twitter, he called on the military to turn away from Maduro and join him. The armed forces had „made the right decision“.

Military as a decisive factor

It is still unclear how many members of the army are actually on Guaidó’s side. The socialist government of Maduro spoke of a small group that joined Guaidó. Some „traitors“ from the ranks of the military had made a coup attempt, said Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez.

Defense Secretary Padrino said it had been a minor resistance that had been defended. Padrino pledged allegiance to the government of Maduro. „The armed forces are sticking to the defense of the national constitution and its legitimate authorities,“ he wrote on Twitter. In a speech to the High Command of the Armed Forces he warned the opposition. She bore the blame for the case of „violence, death or bloodshed“.

The military is considered the deciding factor in the power struggle in Venezuela. Thanks to his support, Maduro has been able to hold on to power for months. Guaidó has repeatedly called on the armed forces to change sides – but so far with little success. Minor uprisings of ordinary soldiers against Maduro’s government have already been crushed several times.