The Latest: Group in video threatens action in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on a reported national guard uprising in Venezuela (all times local):
A group of unidentified men saying they are friends of the Venezuelan military appears in a video saying they are preparing an advance into Venezuela to help unseat embattled President Nicolas Maduro and restore democracy.
The video was released in Colombia hours after Venezuela’s socialist government announced it had arrested 27 National Guard soldiers for allegedly launching an uprising against Maduro.
The video was played late Monday on NTN-TV in Colombia’s capital and shows roughly two dozen men wearing combat fatigues, but unarmed. The Associated Press could not independently verify where the soldiers were located or their identities.
A leader of the group says they are responding to Juan Guaido, the new head of Venezuelan’s opposition-controlled congress who has been urging Venezuelans and theirs armed forces to remove Maduro from power.
Guaido is calling for nationwide demonstrations to be held Wednesday — which is when the soldiers say they will be taking action.
Officials in Venezuela say they’ve arrested 27 members of the National Guard accused of launching an uprising against the government.
Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello says more arrests could come.
Tensions are thick in Venezuela, where the political opposition leaders have called for nationwide protests on Wednesday aimed at driving President Nicolas Maduro from office.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido is urging the armed forces to abandon Maduro and return Venezuela to constitutional rule.
Officials say that national guardsmen in the capital of Caracas took captive a captain in charge of a police station and stole a cache of weapons from another outpost on Monday.
The disturbance sparked street protest in the neighborhood of the police station, which other security forces subdued by shooting tear gas.
Venezuela’s supreme court says it’s throwing out recent congressional measures that found Nicolas Maduro’s presidency illegitimate — with the pro-government justices ruling that leadership of the opposition-dominated congress itself is invalid.
The high court magistrates say in a statement issued Monday that Venezuela’s chief prosecutor should determine whether to bring criminal charges against congressional leaders.
Opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido was sworn in as the National Assembly’s president on Jan. 5 and immediately preceded to oversee legislation accusing Maduro of usurping power and calling on countries from around the world to freeze his government’s assets.
Maduro was sworn in for a second, six-year term on Jan. 10 despite widespread condemnation that he was taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship after his main opponents were banned from running in last year’s vote.
Venezuela’s military says it has detained several national guardsmen who stole a cache of weapons and kidnapped two officers.
The statement appears to confirm reports of an uprising by a national guard unit that triggered disturbances in a poor neighborhood a few kilometers (miles) from the presidential palace in Caracas on Monday.
The military says the guardsmen were motivated by far-right groups to betray their oath. It says all of the weapons had been recovered.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez sent a message on Twitter promising that the rebellious guardsmen would be punished with the full weight of the law.