Venezuela puts down mutiny by soldiers


Maduro won controversial snap elections in May that were boycotted by the opposition and branded fraudulent by the United States, European Union and a dozen Latin American countries.

The suspects had posted videos online saying they won't recognize Maduro's government and that they were acting on behalf of the Venezuelan people. These disruptions came alongside clashes between the National Guard and 27 of its members challenging the government of Nicolás Maduro.

On Monday, Venezuela's Supreme Court disavowed Guaido as the president of the National Assembly, rendered powerless by the top court after Maduro's ruling Socialist Party lost control of it in 2016.

He said the Assembly is the "last vestige" of democracy in Venezuela.

"Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power", Pence said in a video message.

The National Assembly has been powerless since then but Guaido, who became president of the body earlier this month, has risen to the challenge of taking on Maduro's power.

Twenty-five soldiers staged a pre-dawn raid on a national guard outpost in the capital Caracas not far from the presidential palace.

As Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro launches his second term challenged by a re-energized opposition movement, experts say his hold on power relies more than ever on military backing.

Driving the crisis has been Maduro's decision to plow ahead in the face of worldwide condemnation and take the presidential oath January 10 for a second term widely considered illegitimate after his main opponents were banned from running against him.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protestors before moving in to arrest the rogue troops.

When government security forces surrounded the outpost, several dozen residents barricaded streets and set fire to a vehicle and piles of rubbish as they chanted "don't hand yourself in".

Raising his right hand in unison with tens of thousands of supporters, the fresh-faced leader of the opposition-controlled congress took a symbolic oath to assume executive powers he says are his right under two articles of Venezuela constitution to take over as interim president and form a transitional government until he calls new elections.

He has also called for a mass protest tomorrow to support his demands, while the regime has announced its own counter-demonstration in support of Maduro.

Okay, okay, Mike Pence put this a little differently, calling on Venezuelans to "make your voices heard", while they "reclaim your birthright of Libertad".

"We want it to stand as one man on the side of the people, the constitution, and against the usurpation", he said on Twitter.

The armed forces said a "small group of attackers" stole a batch of weapons from a command post in Petare, to the east of Caracas, and kidnapped four soldiers before heading to Cotiza. The Trump administration is about to add Venezuela to its list of state sponsors of terrorism, which would carry with it sanctions on the oil industry, the country's last lifeline of support.

Many countries, including South American neighbors and the United States, have pressured Maduro to resign amid the country's massive economic and political crisis.

Venezuela's pro-government Supreme Court declared Monday that the National Assembly's leadership is illegitimate and nullified its recent decisions.