Venezuelan leaders fight for rule on Workers’ Day

On Tuesday, two opposing Venezuelan leaders, President Nicolas Maduro, and opposition leader Juan Guaido, both called on their supporters to march on International Workers’ Day in a bid to gain the support of public workers and union leaders.

Guaido released a video early on Tuesday morning, outside an air force base in Caracas together with dozens of National Guard members, calling for the military to abandon Maduro.

Guaido’s announcement has not caused any concrete backing from the armed forces to topple the socialist Maduro, yet triggered day-long violent protests leaving more than 100 people injured.

On Tuesday evening, in another video message posted on his social media account, Guaido called on his followers to take to the streets on Workers’ Day, pledging it would be the “largest march” in the country’s history.

After his boldest effort to gain military support failed on Tuesday, Guaido is seeking a broad backing by Venezuelans in March to oust Maduro.

“If he does get some degree of participation from labor movements, then that can be an additional feather in his cap. The march will be a significant barometer of his support and capacity to mobilize,” said Risa Grais-Targow, the Latin America director at Eurasia Group in Washington.

In response, President Maduro asked his supporters to do the same. “Tomorrow, the first of May, we will have a large, millions-strong march of the working class. We have been confronting different types of aggression and attempted coups never before seen in our history,” Maduro said in a televised address on Tuesday night.

Leading the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, on the grounds that Maduro’s re-election in May 2018 was illegitimate.

Guaido has gained recognition of some 50 countries as the country's rightful interim ruler. He has, however, gained limited success in terms of persuading Venezuelan armed forces, for which Guaido has made repeated calls to back him, guaranteeing amnesty from prosecution if they do.

Maduro has managed to remain in office so far, as he also has supporters, notably Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, and Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced Turkey’s explicit support for Maduro after US President Donald Trump declared its backing of Guaido’s interim presidency in January.

“You will respect the results of elections. Trump’s remarks shocked me, as someone who believes in democracy. I called Maduro on the way back from Russia. I told [him] very clearly, ‘Never allow anti-democratic developments. Stand tall’,” Erdogan said in a news conference.

There is still despair over electricity and water in tense Venezuela as Guaido declares ‘state of emergency’ and Maduro continues to stay put 

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