Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has called on the Venezuelan military to help him end the “usurpation” of President Nicolás Maduro.
He appeared in a Periscope video posted on his Twitter account at dawn local time Tuesday flanked by men in military uniforms and armored vehicles. The video, Guaidó said, was filmed at an air force base in the capital Caracas.
“The people of Venezuela initiated the end of the usurpation. At this moment I am meeting with the main military units of our Armed Forces, beginning the final phase of Operation Freedom,” he said in a subsequent tweet.
Opposition politician Leopoldo López, who was previously under house arrest, also appeared in the video. It is not known how he managed to escape house arrest.
Guaidó is the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. In January he declared himself interim president, invoking the Venezuelan constitution to say Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. There have been mass protests in Venezuela for months, as the humanitarian and political crisis has worsened.
US President Donald Trump recognized Guaidó as president after his declaration. Guaidó is recognized by most Latin American countries and EU members, but Russia and China are among those still supporting Maduro.
Colombian President Ivan Duque tweeted Tuesday that Venezuelans should stand on the “right side of history” and support Guaidó.
In response to Guaidó’s video, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that a group of “military traitors” were trying to engineer a coup.