Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro held a major military parade on Friday on the occasion of his country's Independence Day, in which he exercised his power as Commander-in-Chief.
Maduro applauded and pumped with his fist as soldiers marched past, rolling tanks past, storming jet fighters onto a Caracas military base. A unit of disguised Special Forces voiced their loyalty with drawn weapons as they demonstrated on the presidential observation deck.
"We look to the sky and ask for peace," said Maduro. "Meanwhile, our military exercises are playing out. We implore God with targeted missiles. "
The parade demonstrated the continued support of the military for Maduro despite a political conflict with opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Known for stinging his opponents with brutal tactics, Maduro has been heavily criticized not only by Guaidó but also by leaders of other nations, including the United States, who all support the opposition leader's efforts to overthrow Maduro.
Guaidó claimed the powers of the president In January, numerous supporters took to the streets for demonstrations against Maduro and his responsibility for the historic collapse of the oil-rich nation. Due to Maduro's rule, more than four million Venezuelans have left the country because food and medicines are lacking and inflation is breaking.
As head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Guaidó claims that Maduro's re-election in 2018 for a second, six-year term is invalid, as popular political figures have been banned from running for office. Maduro, however, refused to step aside and Guaidó was unsuccessful in urging the critical mass of soldiers to support his cause.
Guaidó gathered demonstrators to take to the streets on Friday for major demonstrations on the 208th year of Venezuelan independence from Spain.
Around noon, thousands joined him as they marched to the headquarters of a military intelligence service in Caracas, where a naval captain who spoke out against Maduro had been tortured to death the day before, according to his wife and lawyer.
"Today in Venezuela, anyone who continues to support this dictatorship must know that he is an accomplice to the violation of human rights," Guaidó said, calling on the military to overcome Maduro's reign.
In light of Maduro's utter international disapproval, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, this week published a report accusing Venezuelan security forces of nearly 5,300 killings last year THE FOX NEWS APP  Morgan Cheung and the Associated Press of Fox News have contributed to this report.