US Throws Support Behind Venezuelan Opposition Leader as Clashes Flare

From left to right, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez, and Vice President Mike Pence pose for a photo on Feb. 25, 2019, during Pence's visit to Colombia. White House photo by D. Myles Cullen.

The US military and diplomatic leaders came out in support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s uprising on Tuesday, calling for new leadership to take over.

Guaido, who declared himself the interim president of Venezuela more than three months ago after a contested election, called for the military to join him, prompting clashes between pro-government forces and those who defected to Guaido’s side.

The US has long supported Guaido, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a Twitter statement the American government is behind him and “the people of Venezuela in their quest for freedom and democracy as they take back their country.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added the US government fully supports the people, and “democracy cannot be defeated.”

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton would not rule out military options on Tuesday, telling reporters that “all options are on the table” and would not be more specific.

The US military and State Department have provided aid to Venezuelan people during the unrest, flying C-17s and C-130s to Colombia in February.