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Venezuelan Guaido says Maduro is in its final phase

LECHERIA, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has reached his last leg and there will soon be a change of government, opposition leader Juan Guaido said. His allies had spoken with high-ranking military officials about the change sides.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Guaido said Maduro has lost the ability to "fund blackmail" to gain power, thanks to pressure from foreign governments that recognized him as the rightful leader of the South American country in the midst of a state would have hyperinflationary economic collapse.

"They are isolated, alone, they are falling apart day by day," said Guaido, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, in Lecheria, a city in the northeastern Anzoategui state, where he held several rallies with supporters the weekend.

"The citizens do not like them, they reject them, they hate them because they received them from them: hate."

Venezuela plunged into deep political crisis in January when Guaido called the constitution To accept a provisional presidency, the re-election of Maduro in May 201

8 was unlawful. He has been recognized by most Western countries, including the United States, as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Socialist Maduro says Guaido is a puppet of the United States and is trying to lead a coup against him to gain control of the oil reserves of the OPEC nation, which are the largest in the world. He retains control over state functions and the loyalty of the military leaders.

But Guaido said that the grip eased in part due to pressure from abroad. The United States imposed sanctions on state oil company PDVSA in January and sanctioned several state banks in Venezuela on Friday. Guaido has also taken control of the US Citgo refinery, a PDVSA subsidiary, and the country's most important foreign investment.

"The diplomatic pressure has worked, the economic pressure and the pressure on the assets have worked," said Guaido.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom many nations have recognized as the country's legitimate temporary ruler, poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in Caracas, Venezuela, March 22, 2019. REUTERS / Carlos Jasso


Shortly after assuming the interim presidency, Guaido offered amnesty to military personnel who took over his side. While hundreds of people have left and many have fled to neighboring Colombia, Maduro is at the top.

Guaido estimated that between 80 and 85 percent of the military were "convinced of the need for change in Venezuela" and that his team met with higher-level members.

"What's missing? That the leadership, the High Command of the Armed Forces, takes the side of the Constitution, "he said.

The 35-year-old engineer, who was little known this year before assuming the presidency of the National Assembly, said he was ready to arrest other members of his team after his chief of staff Roberto Marrero was arrested on Thursday on charges of terrorism ,

The Supreme Court of Venezuela has launched an investigation into Guaido on the grounds that it has helped foreign countries interfere in internal affairs. During a lengthy blackout this month, the Attorney General has asked him to be investigated for alleged involvement in "sabotaging" the country's electrical system.

Guaido said Maduro's goal was to "create fear."

"The risk of participating in Venezuelan politics is your life, your freedom, and the persecution of relatives closest to you," Guaido said.

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He added that his team is reviewing "all options" to potentially pay approximately $ 72 million in April PDVSA debt. The bonds are collateralised with Citgo shares, and if the payment is not made, creditors can confiscate part of the business.

Guaido said his team also had contact with companies whose Venezuelan assets had been expropriated by former president Hugo Chavez, Maduro's mentor and predecessor, about returning to the country if Maduro came to power.

Reporting by Diego Ore; Letter from Luc Cohen; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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