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Military leaders around Venezuela are declaring their support for Nicolás Maduro



Venezuelan military leaders across the country are rejecting Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who on Tuesday declared himself interim president, and will continue to back Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan president who earlier this month was sworn in for a second term following an election widely considered fraudulent.

By the end of Tuesday, Guaidó had already received the support of the US, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, among other countries. Maduro quickly hit back, saying the US was pushing for his ousting because it wants to exploit Venezuela’s oil reserves.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan media reported that military leaders were doubling down on their support for Maduro and were rejecting any sort of foreign interference in their country.

“We ratify our respect and loyalty to the constitution,” said military commander William Miguel Serantes in a televised address.

On Tuesday, Guaidó asked the Venezuelan military to abandon Maduro and join the opposition, in order to oust the man who rose to the presidency after Hugo Chavez died in 2013. But on Wednesday, Venezuelan defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, rejected Guaidó.

“We love Venezuela profoundly and will die defending her,” Padrino López said. “We will never cease to be on the side of the Venezuela people.”

Read more: Nicolás Maduro tells US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours after Trump recognizes opposition leader as interim president

The military’s rejection of Guaidó’s position — and the international backing it has received — is heavily based on the country’s rejection of foreign interference in its government. During his Tuesday address, Maduro doubled-down on his rejection of American policy, bringing up the US’ checkered past of intervening in Latin American governments.

Guaidó is the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly — which, though left largely powerless by the president, opposes Maduro. Through the assembly, Guaidó had promised to create an amnesty policy for civil or military functionaries who were willing to reject Maduro and join the opposition.

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