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Venezuela in crisis as Guaido calls for May Day protests

Video shows military vehicle running over protesters
02:43

What we covered here

  • What happened: Anti-government protests took place in several locations on Wednesday, a day after opposition leader Juan Guaido tried to spark a military uprising against embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
  • Not enough support: Guaido admitted today that the protests did not have the support of enough military defectors to declare a victory.
  • What’s the background? A massive political and humanitarian crisis. Since January, when Guaido declared himself interim president, the country has had two men claiming to be its rightful leader.
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Our live coverage of Venezuela’s May Day protests has ended. Scroll below to catch up on what happened.

Tear gas fired at protesters in Caracas

CNN’s Michael Holmes snapped pictures of the ongoing clashes between protestors and the National Guard, near La Carlota military base in Caracas.

Tear gas was being fired towards protesters while they were blocking a nearby highway, he said.

There weren't enough military defectors for Guaido to declare a victory yesterday, he admits

Speaking to a crowd in Caracas, Juan Guaido admitted that he did not have enough military defectors on his side to declare victory during yesterday’s unrest.

“We have to acknowledge that yesterday there weren’t enough [pro-Guaido military defectors],” the National Assembly President and opposition leader said.

He added: “We have to insist that all the armed forces [show up] together. We are not asking for a confrontation. We are not asking for a confrontation among brothers, it’s the opposite. We just want them to be on the side of the people.”

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido delivers a speech to supporters during a rally to commemorate May Day.

Guaido appears among crowd in Caracas

Venezuelan opposition leader and President of the National Assembly Juan Guaido has arrived at a protest site in Caracas.

“From now on everyday we’re going to have protests … until we reach our objective,” he told the crowd.

Guaido speaking to the crowd in Caracas.

The possibility of Brazil intervening in Venezuela "close to zero"

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro told reporters on Wednesday that “the possibility is close to zero” of the country intervening in Venezuela.

Bolsonaro also said the 25 members of the military who requested asylum at the Brazilian Embassy in Caracas on Tuesday were not able to enter the building.

“They were not able to get into the embassy because as we have seen in Venezuela, the Maduro dictatorship, there are obstacles so people can’t get into the embassy very easily,” Bolsonaro said.

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.

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
A protester makes Molotov cocktails.

"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!”

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.”

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.

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.”

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

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

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.

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.

Guaido: "We continue with more force" on Wednesday

In the last hour, Guaido tweeted that protests would “continue with more force than ever in Venezuela,” and listed a number of meeting points in Caracas on Wednesday morning where protesters should gather.

Guaido also posted a link to his National Communication Center’s Twitter page which listed locations in 16 states throughout the country where protests will be taking place on Wednesday.

President Maduro has also called for pro-government marches to take place on Wednesday, which is international labor day – a holiday marked by protests in many parts of the world.

Where things stand after yesterday's attempt to topple Maduro

Incumbent President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido.

As the sun rose over Venezuela Wednesday, it remained unclear whether the previous day’s uprising, called for by opposition leader Juan Guaido, had tipped the balance in his months-long struggle for power with President Maduro.

The answer to that question still hangs in the balance after Maduro said his troops had defeated what he described as a “coup” attempt; Guaido, meanwhile, said Tuesday night that the President no longer had the support of the army.

Now attention turns to planned street protests on Wednesday, with supporters of both Guaido and Maduro expected to turn out in force.

Pompeo says military action in Venezuela 'possible'
CNN and BBC pulled off the air by government
Venezuela's Maduro claims to have defeated 'coup,' as rival Guaido urges more protests
Opinion: In Venezuela, root for the people
Pompeo says military action in Venezuela 'possible'
CNN and BBC pulled off the air by government
Venezuela's Maduro claims to have defeated 'coup,' as rival Guaido urges more protests
Opinion: In Venezuela, root for the people