The situation in Venezuela is fluid and ongoing as of the writing of this update (approx. 4:30 PM EST). I will continue to cover the situation into the night on Twitter.
Venezuelans awoke this morning to news that an insurrection was underway against the Maduro government, headed by interim president Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez. As of the writing of this updated (approx. 4:30 PM EST), the insurrection appears to have stalled. There are no reports of any fatalities.
Lopez, the charismatic leader of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party, had been freed overnight by his captors.
Below, a summary of the day’s events in Caracas:
- Leopoldo Lopez and Juan Guaido appeared together alongside a group of rebel soldiers on the Altamira interchange bridge in Caracas, just north of the La Carlota air base at approximately 6:15 AM local time.
- Initial reports suggested that La Carlota was under the control of opposition forces, but these reports later turned out to be false.
- Lopez and Guaido called on all Venezuelans to take to the streets, and for the military to join them. They both spoke about the importance of the day, calling it the end of the Maduro dictatorship.
- By 8:40 AM local time, hundreds of Venezuelans had heeded the calls and were joining the opposition forces on the Altamira interchange bridge. As news of the insurrection spread, people took to the streets of Maracaibo, Valencia, and Maracay.
- By the mid-morning, protesters were attempted to break into the La Carlota air base. Small groups succeeded in making holes in the base’s perimeter fence. The base was defended by a group of several dozen National Guard soldiers.
- With the protesters failing to enter the base, the National Guard and other government forces deployed to outside of the base, and cleared the protesters from the vicinity of the installation.
- Protesters then congregated in Chacaito, where they were met by Lopez and Guaido. From there, the protesters began to march westward. The destination of the protest was never announced.
- At approximately 3:30 PM local time, the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that Lopez, his wife and his daughter were inside the Chilean embassy in Caracas.
- As of the writing of this post (4:10 PM EST), there are ongoing confrontations between protesters and authorities near the Altamira interchange; a large group of protesters is currently located at Plaza Altamira.
Leopoldo Lopez, who was arrested in 2014, sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison in 2015, was freed during the overnight hours by his captors. He had been living under house arrest since 2017.
Lopez announced his release with the following tweet, in which he appears with Juan Guaido and a group of sympathetic soldiers:
Venezuela: the final phase to bring an end to the usurpation, Operation Liberty, has begun. I have been freed by soldiers who serve the constitution and President Guaido. I’m at the La Carlota [air] base. We must all mobilize. The time to conquer liberty has come. Strength and faith
In a video recorded from the same site, Lopez called on “all of our brothers in the national armed forces” to joint he uprising against Maduro, because “now is the time”:
By approximately 6:45 AM local time, small groups of individuals had approached the bridge to join the insurrection. They were met with tear gas canisters from the soldiers posted to defend La Carlota:
The soldiers accompanying Guaido and Lopez set up a machine gun on the bridge:
In the video below, rebel soldiers call on nearby residents to take to the streets in support of the rebellion:
As the morning progress, more and more people heeded the call from the opposition leaders. The video below shows opposition demonstrators in Caracas earlier this morning:
The video below captured the moment when a group of National Guard soldiers detained another group of soldiers. It is not immediately clear from the video whose side the arresting soldiers are on, but the woman recording the video thought that they were pro-opposition soldiers:
The situation the bridge spiraled out of control when, at approximately 8:30 AM live fire erupted:
Another angle of the shooting on the bridge:
And a third:
As the morning progressed, more protesters joined the opposition forced on the bridge. By 9:00, a large crowd was surrounded La Carlota:
The protesters attempted to break into the base, which was being defended by dozens of National Guard soldiers. The video below shows the authorities moving inside the base:
As the protesters’ attempts to breach the base failed, National Guard soldiers moved onto the Francisco Fajardo highway to try to remove them from the vicinity of the installation:
At one point, a National Guard truck ran over a group of protesters. El Pitazo reported that two people were seriously injured in the event:
The area around La Carlota was eventually cleared by the authorities. In the video below, National Guard soldiers ram a vehicle that was left in the area by the opposition forces:
From the area around La Carlota, protesters moved to the Chacaito area of Caracas where they heard Juan Guaido speak. From there, the crowd began to march west to an undisclosed location that was widely believed to be the Miraflores Palace.
The video below shows the protesters marching west. They are joined by armed rebel soldiers:
The march eventually came across National Guard forces, which prevented the protesters from moving west:
At one point, pro-government armed militias known locally as colectivos armados fired on protesters from the Ministry of Transportation building. Two of these militia are seen below:
Local police descended upon the building and opened fire on the colectivos:
Protesters managed to reach Plaza Altamira, where they remain to this moment, clashing with authorities:
In response to the unrest, the Maduro government blocked access to social media and other websites for most of the day:
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