Thousands of people in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas have held a rally in support of President Nicolas Maduro, who urged people to defend their homeland by all means, as the South American nation suffers from a year-long political turmoil incited by US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido.
Demonstrators celebrated the Youth Day on Wednesday, on a date which commemorates all the young people who fought and lost their lives in the Battle of la Victoria in 1814, during the country’s war of independence against the Spanish Empire.
The marchers rallied toward the Miraflores Palace and gathered in front of a stage on which Maduro urged his young supporters to “defend the homeland with weapons in hand if necessary.”
Guaido is considered responsible for causing political crisis in Venezuela when he unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January last year, rejecting the outcome of the May 2018 election, which Maduro had won. Guaido also later launched an abortive coup against the elected government.
Guaido’s self-proclamation as president and his coup received full support from Washington. Caracas has said election results must be respected, but has applied lenience and has refrained from arresting Guaido over the coup.
The US has imposed several rounds of sanctions against the oil-rich South American country aimed at ousting Maduro and replacing him with Guaido.
On Saturday, the US Department of the Treasury imposed unilateral sanctions against Venezuela’s flagship airline Conviasa.
Two days later, Maduro, addressing hundreds of people, vowed to file a lawsuit against the White House over the economic damages it caused to his country through sanctions on the state airline.
The Venezuelan president also blamed Guaido for the move by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department.
Washington has also been pushing to topple Maduro in part by establishing a representative office called Washington’s Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) based in Colombia to keep in touch with Guaido.