The people of Venezuela have had enough with their socialist government, led by President Nicolas Maduro.
The political crisis in Venezuela has been worsening over the last few months, ever since opposition leader Juan Guaido named himself interim president back in January and gained the support of the U.S.
The sharp divide between Guaido and Maduro supporters finally erupted in an explosion of violence today, when Guaido and another opposition leader who had been put under house arrest, Leopoldo Lopez, called on their supporters to take to the streets to protest Maduro.
The anti-Maduro protestors were met with violence from Maduro loyalists, and bloody clashes erupted.
Take a look at this shocking video that allegedly shows pro-Maduro forces running over the anti-government protestors with armored military vehicles:
The video has also surfaced on Facebook:
Marco Rubio, who has been strongly behind Guaido and his efforts, reacted to the video on Twitter in a series of tweets regarding the uprising:
Guaido announced that today marks the start of his final phase to oust Maduro and claims that he has gained military support to help him get rid of the socialist president.
President Donald Trump has commented that he is "monitoring the situation in Venezuela" and supports the Venezuela people in their struggle for freedom.
Check out the president's tweet:
National Security Advisor John Bolton also voiced his support of Guaido's supporters in the midst of the clashes on his Twitter page:
Bolton has also given a statement regarding the situation in Venezuela in which he called the uprising "an act of bravery by Guaido and others," which you can watch here:
The situation in Venezuela is not over. As we write this, new updates are emerging every minute.
Reuters has more details about the uprising:
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Tuesday made his strongest call yet to the military to help him oust President Nicolas Maduro, and violence broke out at anti-government protests as the country hit a new crisis point after years of political and economic chaos.
Several dozen armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers supporting Maduro at a rally outside the La Carlota air base in Caracas, but the incident fizzled out and did not appear to be part of an immediate attempt by the opposition to take power through military force.
Guaido, in Twitter posts, wrote that he had begun the “final phase” of his campaign to topple Maduro, calling on Venezuelans and the armed forces to back him ahead of May Day mass street protests planned for Wednesday.
“The moment is now!” he wrote. “The future is ours: the people and Armed Forces united to put an end” to Maduro’s time in office.
Tens of thousands of people were marching in Caracas in support of Guaido on Tuesday, clashing with riot police along the main Francisco Fajardo thoroughfare. A National Guard armored car slammed into protesters who were throwing stones and hitting the vehicle.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino called the latest instability a “coup movement” but several hours after Guaido’s announcement there was no sign of any other anti-Maduro military activity. Guaido later left a rally he was holding with military supporters at the air base.
Doctor Maggi Santi of the Salud Chacao health center in eastern Caracas said there were 36 people injured in Tuesday’s incidents, most of them hit with pellets or rubber bullets.
Repeated opposition attempts to force Maduro, a socialist, from power through huge protests and calls on the military to act have so far failed.
Maduro, a former bus driver who took office after the death of political mentor President Hugo Chavez in 2013, said on Tuesday he had spoken with military leaders and that they had shown him “their total loyalty.”
“Nerves of steel!” Maduro wrote on Twitter. “I call for maximum popular mobilization to assure the victory of peace. We will win!”
The move was Guaido’s boldest effort yet to persuade the military to rise up against Maduro. If it fails, it could be seen as evidence that he lacks the support he says he has. It might also encourage the authorities, who have already stripped him of parliamentary immunity and opened multiple investigations into him, to arrest him.
The United States is among some 50 countries that recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s president, and has imposed sanctions to try to dislodge Maduro, who they say won re-election last year through fraud.
“Whatever happens now, we won’t let ourselves be stopped. Our process is moving on step by step, in accordance with our constitution. We continue to stand for nonviolence,” Guaido told German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle in an interview released on Tuesday.
Oil prices topped $73, partly driven higher by the uncertainty in Venezuela, an OPEC member whose oil exports have been hit by U.S. sanctions and an economic crisis.
Guaido’s efforts appeared aimed at building momentum toward the May Day mass street protests and making them a turning point in his push to oust Maduro.
Guaido has said Wednesday’s protests will be the largest march in Venezuela’s history and part of the “definitive phase” of his effort to take office in order to call fresh elections.
ABC News also had the following to say:
Government forces fired tear gas and clashed with some of his supporters in the streets of Caracas. In addition to reports of gunfire, video showed Maduro's armored vehicles rolling through the streets after protesters, in some cases trampling some as they attacked them.
President Donald Trump weighed in hours after the protests began, voicing support for "the People of Venezuela and their Freedom," but stopping short of endorsing the uprising of the day.
Earlier Tuesday, opposition leaders Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez announced a new effort to oust Maduro, saying they had some military backing to push him out of power after months of protest against his increasingly hard line rule that Maduro has dismissed as a U.S.-backed coup.
Beyond the president's tweet, senior Trump administration officials were quick to boost Guaido and the opposition, issuing statements of support.
Guaido, the president of the country's National Assembly who was sworn in as interim president in January, was joined by Lopez, a leading opposition figure who had been under house arrest, but was freed Tuesday by deserted Venezuelan military officers. Near a major military base in the capital Caracas, he announced the "final phase" of their effort to remove Maduro from power.
Guaido's representative to Washington fought back, telling reporters, "This is not a military coup. This is a constitutional process led by the Venezuelan people under the leadership of a civilian, the interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido."
CNBC commented on U.S. leaders' response to the uprising so far:
There is “overwhelming support for Guaido,” said national security advisor John Bolton, which “needs to be translated into a peaceful transition of power” away from Maduro, who has refused to yield the presidency.
Bolton also denied that the protests constitute a coup, as Maduro claims, and warned that it “would be a big mistake” for Maduro to order his troops “to use force against innocent civilians.”
“All options remain on the table” for America, Bolton added without providing detail.
In a tweet following his remarks outside the White House, Bolton threatened officials in the Maduro regime: “Your time is up. This is your last chance. Accept Interim President Guaido’s amnesty, protect the Constitution, and remove Maduro, and we will take you off our sanctions list. Stay with Maduro, and go down with the ship.”
The Washington Post, citing a Caracas Metropolitan Clinic official, reported that six people were being treated for injuries sustained by tear gas and rubber bullets. News outlets showed video of an armored vehicle ramming a crowd of pro-Guaido demonstrators in the capital city of Caracas.
In an early-morning video, Guaido, standing at an air base in Caracas in front of armed men in military garb, called on soldiers and civilians to oust Maduro, “based on the nonviolent struggle that we have done at all times.”
In January, Trump officially recognized Guaido as the legitimate interim president of oil-rich Venezuela, and vowed to “hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for any threats it may pose to the safety of the Venezuelan people.”
Senior Trump administration officials voiced support for Guaido’s “Operation Liberty” on Tuesday.
“We are with you!” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed Guaido’s call to move ahead with the plan to oust Maduro, saying in a tweet that the U.S. “fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy.”
The takeaway from the violent clashes happening today in Venezuela for many is that socialist governments rarely lead to the happy endings they usually promise their people.
As Nate Madden voiced on Twitter,