Venezuelans Protest Again, but Many Say This Time Is Different
Mr. Guaidó says he is ready to lead an interim government that would distribute humanitarian aid, take steps to turn the economy around, and convene free and fair elections. He has argued that doing so would not violate the Constitution because Mr. Maduro, whose re-election last year was denounced as rigged, had “usurped” the presidency.
Past antigovernment demonstrations were dominated by rage and indignation, but Mr. Guaidó and his allies have tried to strike a hopeful, conciliatory tone. They have taken great pains to urge members of the military to turn their backs on Mr. Maduro, arguing that doing so would constitute not a coup, but adherence to their oath to uphold the Constitution.
On Monday night, Mr. Guaidó and his wife, Fabiana Rosales, recorded video messages appealing to the consciences — and the aspirations — of members of the armed forces.
“None of you can live in a dignified manner on your military paycheck, you can’t meet the basic needs of your children and relatives,” Mr. Guaidó said. “In the midst of this debacle, the people responsible for this crisis have forced you to clamp down and repress demonstrations of people who are only demanding to eat, to have access to health care, to have water at home, electricity.”
The town hall meetings, known as cabildos, have drawn thousands of people in recent days. Speakers have fired up crowds by talking about freedom of the press, economic policy and the bleakness of the holiday season in Venezuela as more and more people have moved abroad.
“You can feel hope in the air,” said Annie Stone, a 63-year-old retiree in Caracas who wore a rosary with yellow, blue and red beads — paying tribute to the Venezuelan flag — to a recent meeting. Referring to the youthful speakers, she added: “These aren’t superheroes that emerged overnight. But for the first time, we see a solution in sight.”
Some in the opposition have reservations about the current approach. Juan Andrés Mejía, a lawmaker, said making overtures to the military — the linchpin of their plan — was perilous.