On Thursday, Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez disclosed that he had met with senior military officials before a failed pre-dawn military uprising on Tuesday against President Nicolas Maduro. However, it failed to coalesce as security forces loyal to President Maduro shut down demonstrators who support Mr. Guaido.
Venezuela is experiencing severe, ongoing hyperinflationary economic collapse marked by shortages of food and medicine. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans protested in the streets across the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, heeding Mr. Guaido’s call to keep the pressure on President Maduro. Struggles with security forces left four people dead as hundreds were injured or detained.
More than three months ago, Mr. Guaido invoked the country’s constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing President Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. The coup was urged on by Mr. Lopez’s ally and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the country’s interim President.
Mr. Lopez said more “military movements” to oust President Maduro were on the way, despite the President appearing on state television Thursday with his defense minister and military operations chief, suggesting the military remains on his side. From Spain’s Caracas diplomatic residence Mr. Lopez said he had met with commanders and generals from different sectors of Venezuela’s armed forces in his home in the past three weeks. “There we committed ourselves to contribute to the end of the usurpation,” adding, “The fissure that opened on April 30 will become a crack, and that crack is what is going to break the levee.”
Mr. Lopez, who is Mr. Guaido’s mentor, was arrested during a protest movement in 2014 and transferred to house arrest in 2017. On Tuesday, he escaped his home and sought refuge at the Spanish embassy. On Thursday, a Venezuelan court issued a warrant for Mr. Lopez’s arrest, saying he violated an order that required him to remain under house arrest and restricted his ability to speak publicly. A Spanish government spokeswoman said Madrid had no intention of turning him over to Venezuelan authorities.
Mr. Guaido is the head of the opposition-run National Assembly and he has been recognized as the South American country’s legitimate leader by more than 50 countries, including Spain and the United States. President Maduro is a socialist who retains the support of Russia, Cuba, and China, who calls Guaido a U.S.-backed puppet seeking to orchestrate a coup against him.