“Democracy cannot be defeated.”
Soldiers joined protestors in the streets of Caracas Tuesday in a bid to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government – and the world watched on social media.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó had earlier appeared at a military base in the heart of the capital and declared the start of Operation Liberty. Flanked by soldiers, he promised the military would side with the people in an uprising against “the dictator” Maduro.
“Today, brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men attached to the Constitution have followed our call,” Guaidó said in a video from Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda Air Base and posted to social media. “The definitive end of the usurpation starts today.”
Maduro did not appear in public, but he declared in a tweet: “Nerves of Steel!” He said the military leaders had “expressed their total loyalty” and called for “maximum popular mobilization to ensure the victory of peace.”
“We Will win!” he said.
¡Nervios de Acero! He conversado con los Comandantes de todas las REDI y ZODI del País, quienes me han manifestado su total lealtad al Pueblo, a la Constitución y a la Patria. Llamo a la máxima movilización popular para asegurar la victoria de la Paz. ¡Venceremos!
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) April 30, 2019
Twitter videos appeared to show military forces alternatively clashing with anti-government forces and turning against the government.
A National Guard armored vehicle is seen in one clip reportedly running over unarmed protestors in Caracas.
But in the town of Puerto Ordaz, similar APCs appear to turn away from protestors, who cheer in response.
#Venezuela ??: #GNB forces in #Bolivar state are leaving the streets, refusing to crack down on anti-#Maduro protesters. #30Abr #OperacionLibertad pic.twitter.com/QfwqzIkFIB
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) April 30, 2019
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., tweeted a clip of what he said was a showdown between rival military factions on a Caracas highway.
Video of showdown between rival factions in the #Venezuela military which occurred about 1 hour ago on highway in #Caracas https://t.co/MTXbrUmXkr
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 30, 2019
Another video purports to show a soldier who defected from Maduro pledging his life to Guaidó.
#Venezuela ??: soldier who defected from the #Maduro regime this morning proclaiming "I will follow Guaido to death". #30Abr #OperacionLibertad pic.twitter.com/snOPOnpffn
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) April 30, 2019
Guaidó last month rejected Maduro’s January reelection as illegitimate – a judgement affirmed by international observers – and made himself the interim president of Venezuela with the support of the National Assembly. Dozens of countries have recognized his claim to power, including the United States and most South American and European nations.
On Tuesday, Brazil’s socialism-hating President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted his support for Guaido and “the freedom of Venezuelans.”
O Brasil acompanha com bastante atenção a situação na Venezuela e reafirma o seu apoio na transição democrática que se processa no país vizinho. O Brasil está ao lado do povo da Venezuela, do presidente Juan Guaidó e da liberdade dos venezuelanos.
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) April 30, 2019
U.S. Secretary of State said in a tweet that the United States “fully supports” the attempted coup, which he called a “quest for freedom and democracy.”
“Democracy cannot be defeated,” he added.
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
National Security Adviser John Bolton earlier posted a similar message, prompting Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to reply that the Trump administration should keep its “hands off Venezuela.”
The heads of the coup d’état admit their responsibility without scruples. The Trump administration, in its despair, attempts to spark an internal conflict in Venezuela. Venezuela’s democratic institutions guarantee peace in the country. #TrumpHandsOffVenezuela https://t.co/bZeOUJo6cq
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) April 30, 2019
Elected in 2013, Maduro has presided over years of economic decline. In February, his government turned away much-needed foreign aid, saying it would reroute food and supply shipments to Colombia instead. Last month, a power outage left more than 70 percent of the country without electricity at one point, and rolling power outages plagued the country for days.
At the same time, the United States withdrew its remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas, and slapped sanctions on members of Maduro’s government.
In joint speech with Bolsonaro at the White House days later, President Donald Trump warned, “The last thing we want in the United States is socialism,” an apparent jab at the resurgence of the ideology among Democrats.
WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez and Socialism Get Scorched With Facts