Maduro exhorts Venezuela military to fight 'any coup plotter'

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday called on the armed forces to oppose "any coup plotter" after a failed military uprising by forces supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"Yes, we are in combat, keep morale high in this fight to disarm any traitor, any coup plotter," Maduro said at a televised event with the military high command in which he appeared surrounded by soldiers.

"No one can be afraid, it is the hour to defend our right to peace," he said at a ceremony in which, according to the government, 4,500 military personnel were present.

Maduro's call comes after an uprising Tuesday by a group of military personnel under the leadership of Guaido, recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president.

The rebel soldiers gathered at a Caracas highway with Guaido, who urged Venezuela's armed forces to rise against Maduro.

But the military leadership ratified their support for the Maduro government, and 25 rebel soldiers sought asylum at the Brazilian embassy. Opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, freed from house arrest, took refuge at the home of the Spanish ambassador.

"The time for combat has arrived, the time has arrived to give an example to history and the world and to say that in Venezuela there is an armed forces ... united like never before, defeating coup attempts of traitors who sell themselves to the dollars from Washington."

Tensions in Venezuela have soared since Guaido, who heads the National Assembly legislature, invoked the constitution to declare himself acting president on January 23, claiming Maduro's re-election last year was illegitimate.