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In Venezuela, Maduro holds on to power as Guaido’s military support falters

After Tuesday’s violent clashes, Wednesday dawned quiet in Caracas but eventually grew chaotic again. Police threw tear gas at Venezuelans demonstrating in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Meanwhile, it was unclear why Guaido’s earlier talks with military leaders about joining his campaign to unseat President Nicolas Maduro appeared to have fallen through. William Brangham reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: It was another tense and violent day in Venezuela, with crowds in the streets once again.

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido again called for pressure to oust the Maduro regime, but the military gave no signs of heeding that call.

    William Brangham has our report.

  • William Brangham:

    It was all quiet in Caracas this morning, but as the hours passed, crowds again filled some Caracas neighborhoods. There were new clashes and more tear gas, as protesters confronted police.

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido yesterday had called for a military and civilian uprising against President Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. and dozens of other nations accuse Maduro of stealing the last election, and have demanded he step down.

    And Guaido was out again this afternoon.

  • Juan Guaido (through translator):

    We are going to continue to be in the streets until Venezuela is free. Yes, we can.

  • William Brangham:

    Hours later, Maduro rallied his own supporters and vowed not to step down.

  • Nicolas Maduro (through translator):

    Only the people can appoint and only the people can remove from office. It will not be the bullets or rifles that will ever impose a new president.

  • William Brangham:

    U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams says Guaido had been negotiating with top military officials to join him, but that it's still unclear why those talks fell through.

  • Elliott Abrams:

    It may be that Maduro and the Cuban intelligence people who surround him found out and managed to head this off. It may be that moving from negotiations in private to actually making decisions in the streets, people lost their courage.

  • William Brangham:

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed Maduro was ready to flee the country yesterday, but that his Russian allies prevented it. The Venezuelan president denied that.

  • Nicolas Maduro (through translator):

    Mike Pompeo said that Maduro has a plane ready to go to Cuba to flee, and the Russians took him off the plane and forbade him to leave the country. Mr. Pompeo, please, be serious.

  • William Brangham:

    Today, Pompeo spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The State Department says the secretary warned the Russians that their actions in Venezuela are destabilizing.

    Moscow says Lavrov responded in kind, warning of — quote — "grave consequences" for any aggressive U.S. actions.

    Special Envoy Abrams says, Russia's support is about more than just propping up Maduro.

  • Elliott Abrams:

    It's primarily a matter of expanding Russian influence and kind of jabbing a finger in the eye of the United States in the Western Hemisphere.

  • William Brangham:

    Meanwhile, Pompeo left open that U.S. military action in Venezuela is still possible.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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