Venezuelan Opposition Leader Steps Up Pressure, but Maduro Holds On
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said Mr. Maduro and senior leaders in his government had been prepared to fly to Cuba on Tuesday morning, with “an airplane on the tarmac,” but that Russia, a powerful ally of Mr. Maduro’s, had “indicated he should stay.” Mr. Pompeo offered no evidence.
John R. Bolton, the White House national security adviser, said top officials in Mr. Maduro’s government had committed to transitioning power to Mr. Guaidó. He identified them as Vladimir Padrino López, the defense minister, Maikel Moreno, the head of the Supreme Court, and Rafael Hernández Dala, the commander of Mr. Maduro’s presidential guard.
“All agreed Maduro had to go,” Mr. Bolton said. But Mr. Padrino and Mr. Moreno both came out publicly in defense of Mr. Maduro on Tuesday.
Since January, Mr. Guaidó has run what amounts to a parallel government, counting on support from more than 50 countries, including the United States, even as Mr. Maduro remains the country’s leader. Despite Mr. Maduro’s low popularity, however, the opposition’s momentum has been sapped as Mr. Guaidó has failed to depose the president or solve the shortages of food, medicine, water and power that plague the country’s 30 million people.
But if there had been any likelihood that top military brass would turn sides Tuesday, it seemed quashed by early afternoon when Mr. Padrino López, the defense minister, spoke on television, calling the act “an attempt at a coup, without a doubt, at a mediocre level.”
The defense minister also came flanked by soldiers, but they pledged loyalty to Mr. Maduro and vowed to hunt down those responsible.