Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for his countrymen to take to the streets Wednesday in what he pledged would be the “largest march” in the country’s history as he attempts to gain the support of the armed forces to oust embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido’s appearance early Tuesday with national guard members outside a Caracas air force base triggered violent protests that resulted in more than 100 injured in clashes with authorities. The White House tweeted a video showing Venezuelan military vehicle appearing to hit protestors with the caption "This is the corrupt, illegitimate Maduro Regime."
Guaido's call for a massive march apparently prompted Maduro to call on his own "millions-strong march of the working class.”
Maduro, in a late-night televised address, said: “We have been confronting different types of aggression and attempted coups never before seen in our history.”
While Guaido called on the military to rise up against Maduro, no major defections were reported. However, Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and a Maduro supporter, appeared to break with the socialist leader in an open letter.
He didn’t mention Maduro or Guaido by name, but said "the time has come to seek new ways of doing politics" and to try and "rebuild the country."
Wednesday’s turnout could be a key test for Guaido. Some of his supporters have grown frustrated that Maduro remains in power three months after he declared himself president.
The timing of the march comes on International Workers’ Day as Guaido makes an appeal to Maduro’s traditional support base of union leaders and public workers.
“If he does get some degree of participation from labor movements, then that can be an additional feather in his cap,” Risa Grais-Targow, the Latin America director at Eurasia Group in Washington, told Reuters.
The march could be “a significant barometer of his support and capacity to mobilize,” she added.
“I hope this will be the last time we have to take to the streets,” Claudia Riveros, a 36-year-old bakery worker carrying a Venezuelan flag during Tuesday’s protest, told the news agency. “I want to see the end of this usurping government.”
Guaido said some top military commanders support an uprising, but none have come out publically.
"The armed forces have taken the right decision," said Guaido. "With the support of the Venezuelan people and the backing of our constitution they are on the right side of history."
Maduro meanwhile claimed that the attempt to seize power by Guaido had been defeated, appearing on Venezuelan state television while flanked by military commanders.
His appearance came as Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, told Fox News on Tuesday night that Maduro was "ready" to leave the country, but Russia convinced him to stay.
"He was ready to go," Pompeo said. "He was diverted by the Russians."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.