Venezuela protests a 'fight for freedom': Donald Trump

File photo of US President Donald Trump (R) and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro (L). Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Washington, DC, USA Jan 31, 2019, 07.17 AM (IST)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday reiterated strong US support for Venezuela's opposition and said protesters demanding the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro were fighting for freedom.

"Large protests all across Venezuela today against Maduro. The fight for freedom has begun!" Trump tweeted.

Trump said that earlier he had spoken by phone with self-declared acting president Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by Washington, to reinforce "strong United States support for Venezuela's fight to regain its democracy."

Washington has thrown its full backing behind Guaido's claim to lead Venezuela, but hard-left leader Maduro, who still controls the military and police, says Guaido is part of a US-led coup plot.

The country's pro-government top court has barred Guaido, who is calling for large anti-Maduro street protests this week, from leaving the country.

On Wednesday, people took to the streets in the capital Caracas and various other cities, banging pots, blowing whistles and horns, and carrying banners that read: "Armed forces, regain your dignity," "Maduro usurper," "Guaido, president" and "No to the dictatorship."

"Don't shoot people who are making demands also for your family," Guaido said in a message to the military delivered from the central university in Caracas.

Story highlights

Washington has thrown its full backing behind Guaido's claim to lead Venezuela, but hard-left leader Maduro, who still controls the military and police, says Guaido is part of a US-led coup plot.