An active Venezuelan general called on the armed forces to rebel against President Nicolas Maduro and to recognize the opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim chief as pressure at home and abroad grows on the head of state to step down.
In a video circulating on Twitter yesterday, General Francisco Yanez of the air force's high command, said most of the armed forces already disavowed Maduro, who claims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.
"People of Venezuela, 90 percent of the armed forces of Venezuela are not with the dictator, they are with the people of Venezuela," Yanez said in the video.
"Given the happenings of the last few hours, already the transition to democracy is imminent."
The high command's web page lists Yanez, along with a photo, as the air force's head of strategic planning.
On its Twitter account, the air force's high command accused the general of treason. Yanez is the first active Venezuelan general to recognize Guaido since he proclaimed himself president on Jan 23.
The video came as opposition supporters were set to protest nationwide in a bid to keep up the pressure on Maduro after Washington recognized Guaido as the legitimate president and issued potentially crippling sanctions that are likely to further weaken the OPEC nation's struggling oil industry.
Maduro's critics also hope to encourage similar moves by European countries. Some European Union member states are expected to officially recognize Guaido next week, while others will likely take a more cautious stance of support.
"We are going to send a very clear message in all the municipalities of Venezuela and in each city of the world, we are going to give a demonstration of strength, in a pacific and organized manner," Guaido tweeted yesterday.
Maduro will also hold a rally, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez's first inauguration as president in 1999.
Guaido has sent letters to Russia and China, both major creditors and allies of Maduro's government, saying that a change of government would be in the best interests of both countries.