Caracas, May 2 (IANS) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday that the judiciary “is looking for” those responsible for the military uprising his government put down earlier this week and that those involved “sooner rather than later” would pay for their acts with prison.
“They are fleeing from embassy to embassy,” Maduro told thousands of supporters gathered near the Miraflores presidential palace, referring to opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whom he did not mention directly.
“The judiciary is looking for them and sooner rather than later they will pay by going to prison for their treason and their crime,” he was quoted as saying by Efe news.
Lopez on Tuesday circumvented the almost 14-year sentence he was serving in his home and joined the head of the opposition-controlled Parliament, Juan Guaido – whom more than 50 governments have recognized as Venezuela’s interim President – in urging the armed forces to turn their backs on Maduro.
In a video message broadcast on Tuesday, Guaido had called on the country and the Army to force Maduro from power. Dozens of demonstrations and clashes were reported in Caracas and across the country on Tuesday.
More than 50 people were injured during the second consecutive day of street protests on Wednesday, bringing the total of injured since Tuesday morning to over 120, while 168 people have been detained, according to human rights NGO Foro Penal. A 24-year-old man died in clashes in the central state of Aragua.
Maduro also said that US President Donald Trump was deceived when he was told that he (Maduro) intended to abandon the country and flee to Cuba after the military uprising led by Guaido.
Meanwhile, Guaido said that he will continue liberating the country’s “political prisoners” after he claimed that he had made efforts to get Lopez out of house arrest.
“We’re going to continue liberating the political prisoners,” said the opposition leader to hundreds of supporters in eastern Caracas, near Petare.
“We’re stronger, more determined,” he said, having on Wednesday received backing from opposition supporters on the streets after the failed military uprising.
Guaido also said that he would speak “with any official” who helps him get Maduro out of office and set up a transitional government that would call free elections.
“We are going to continue in the streets until we secure the freedom of Venezuela.”
He received an additional boost from the international community on Wednesday after the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the US ruled that only Guaido could legally represent the state of Venezuela on US territory.
The court supported Trump’s decision in January to recognize Guaido as the interim President of Venezuela, calling the issue “political” rather than “legal”.
Venezuela has been going through a period of tremendous political tension since January, when Maduro was inaugurated to a second six-year term that is not recognized by the opposition or by a significant portion of the international community.