Venezuela in crisis as Guaido calls for May Day protests

12:51 p.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Both government opponents and supporters hold rival protests

The protests in Venezuela's capital is just one of many around the country held by both government opponents and supporters.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido's team has called for support from protesters in various locations across the country, including in the states of Tachira, Monagas, Falcon, Barinas, Amazonas, Aragua, Anzoategui and Apure.

But a "sizable portion" of the population has also gathered to march in support of President Nicolas Maduro, CNN's Michael Holmes said in Caracas. He says the demonstrations were largely made up of those from working-class backgrounds -- whom Maduro has vowed to "always defend" the rights of.

A supporter displays a poster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a rally on May Day in Caracas.
A supporter displays a poster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a rally on May Day in Caracas.

11:25 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Thousands of pro-Guaido demonstrators gather in Caracas

Crowds have started gathering in Altamira Square -- at the center of the opposition heartland in Venezuela's capital -- but they're "not showing signs of moving anywhere just yet," said CNN's Michael Holmes at the scene.

"The atmosphere here is lively, enthusiastic. There's a few thousand people, but my guess is (opposition leader Juan) Guaido would have hoped for more.
"We saw Molotov cocktails being made but it's peaceful here."
Altamira Square, Caracas
Altamira Square, Caracas

A protester makes Molotov cocktails.
A protester makes Molotov cocktails.

10:28 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

"See you in the street!" tweets Guaido in May Day message

Shortly after President Nicolas Maduro tweeted his support for the working class, opposition leader Juan Guaido put out his own message to mark International Workers' Day.

"To our workers: We recognize the value of dignified work, which affords you well-being and progress. Today we know that there is no salary which reaches (to that), and that your rights and achievements are ignored. #1M (May 1) we accompany you in your demands. See you in the street!"

10:26 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Bolton: Maduro "surrounded by scorpions in a bottle" 

Embattled president Nicolas Maduro is "now surrounded by scorpions in a bottle and it’s only a matter of time" before he's ousted, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Wednesday.

“Maduro spent the day not in the company of Venezuelan forces, but surrounded by Cubans because he doubted the loyalty of the Venezuelan armed forces," Bolton told reporters in a briefing on the White House lawn. 

"If this afternoon 20-25,000 Cubans left Venezuela, I think Maduro would fall by midnight," Bolton said.

His comments came the day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro had been on the cusp of fleeing to Cuba before he was talked into staying by Moscow – a claim denied by both Maduro and Russia.

When asked what evidence the administration had to support Pompeo's claims, Bolton said "this is one of those situations where I really can’t tell you the specifics of it."

9:57 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Maduro wishes everyone a happy Workers' Day

President Nicolas Maduro vowed to "always defend" the rights of the working class, in his first tweet Wednesday in the wake of mass protests across Venezuela on Tuesday.

"Happy Day of the Worker!" Maduro wrote in the post, marking International Workers' Day.

"The working class have in me a President who will always defend their rights and claims, standing up to the empire and its lackeys that want to take away our achievements; they will fail. We will be victorious!" he wrote.

The tweet was accompanied by a video montage showing happy workers.

9:21 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Pompeo: US "military action is possible" in Venezuela

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that American "military action is possible" in Venezuela.

"If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do," added Pompeo, who was speaking to Fox Business.

"We would prefer a peaceful transition of government there, where (President Nicolas) Maduro leaves and a new election is held," Pompeo said, whose administration backs opposition leader Juan Guaido.
"But the president has made clear, in the event there comes a moment -- we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is -- the president will have to ultimately make that decision."
8:40 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Streets calm in Caracas ahead of protests later Wednesday

Burnt out motorcycles and buses litter the streets of Caracas this morning as Venezuelans brace themselves for another day of protests.

International Workers Day -- held on May 1 -- is a public holiday in Venezuela and for now the streets remain fairly quiet, according to journalist Stefano Pozzebon in the capital.

That is likely to change dramatically in the coming hours after Guaido called for continued protests against Maduro today.

"We've heard these calls for uprising before," said Pozzebon. "What we haven't seen before is yesterday's images of armored vehicles hitting crowds and gunfights from both sides of the struggle."
Charred motorcycles in the capital Caracas Wednesday.
Charred motorcycles in the capital Caracas Wednesday.

A burnt-out bus, also in the capital Wednesday morning.
A burnt-out bus, also in the capital Wednesday morning.

8:52 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Protests took place in 65 cities on Tuesday, rights group says

Protesters stand off with guards in Caracas Tuesday.
Protesters stand off with guards in Caracas Tuesday.

One man died in Tuesday's demonstrations, which spanned across 65 cities, according to Venezuelan rights monitoring group Provea.

Two other rights groups in Venezuela -- the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict -- also reported the death.

IACHR also said that protests were held in 24 states and, in at least 12 of the states, were “strongly repressed.”

Provea also said 83 people were arrested as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, citing the monitoring group Foro Penal.

More than 70 people were injured in the clashes and were taken to Salud Chacao Medical Center in Caracas, according to the hospital's president.

11:28 a.m. ET, May 1, 2019

Syria says "failed coup attempt" is "strong blow" to US

Syria has described Tuesday's "failed coup attempt" as a "strong blow" to the Trump administration, in an indication of how the Venezuelan crisis has divided international powers into pro- and anti-government camps.

Syria condemned the uprising and reiterated its “full solidarity with the friendly leadership, government and people of Venezuela," reported state news agency SANA on Wednesday, citing a source at the Foreign and Expatriates ministry.

The source said the US was "undermining stability in Venezuela” and putting the country under “economic siege.”

Syria's ally, Russia, has also been one of President Nicolas Maduro's main supporters.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- whose administration backs opposition leader Juan Guaido -- claimed that Maduro was on the cusp of fleeing to Cuba before being talked into staying by Moscow. Maduro and Russia deny the claims.