Brazil president says Venezuela´s Guaido has not been defeated

Brasília (AFP) –


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Wednesday Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido was not defeated in his attempt to overthrow the leftist regime of Nicolas Maduro, saying a "crack" has been opened that could bring down the government.

"This is by no means a defeat ... I recognize the patriotic and democratic spirit of Juan Guaido in his struggle for the freedom of his country," Bolsonaro told reporters after a special meeting at the defense ministry to discuss the Venezuelan crisis.

"We have information that there is a crack, getting closer and closer to the armed forces. There is the possibility that the government could collapse," he added.

But General Augusto Heleno, the minister for institutional security and a close adviser to Bolsonaro, was more skeptical in an interview with Brazilian news site G1, describing Tuesday´s uprising as a "disorganized movement that looked like a fight between football fans."

Heleno warned it was "a road with no return."

A defiant President Maduro said late Tuesday the attempted coup had failed and he promised criminal prosecutions over the "serious crimes that have been committed."

At least 25 Venezuelan troops have applied for asylum in Brazil´s embassy in Caracas, Bolsonaro´s office confirmed earlier.

Tensions in Venezuela have soared since Guaido, who heads the National Assembly, announced on January 23 that he was the acting president under the constitution as Maduro had been fraudulently re-elected last year.

Brazil and the United States are among dozens of countries that have recognized Guaido as Venezuela´s president.

Guaido´s call on Tuesday for troops to join him in his campaign to oust Maduro was backed by the United States, which said it is prepared to take military action to stem the crisis, if necessary.