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CONNECT THE WORLD
Attempted Coup Underway in Venezuela; Leopoldo Lopez Calls on the Venezuelan People to Take to the Streets; Mike Pompeo Says U.S. Fully Supports Venezuelans' Quest for Freedom; Opposition Diplomat Holds News Conference in U.S.; Guaido Pushing Venezuela's Military to Oust Maduro; Interview with Temir Porras Ponceleon, Former Chief of Staff to Nicolas Maduro; Military Speaks on the Current Coup. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 30, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD with me Becky Anderson live from Abu Dhabi.
Let's get you right to this breaking news out of Venezuela where an attempts coup is underway. A very fluid situation on the ground as we
speak. Key opposition figure Juan Guaido is calling for the people and the military to rise up. Saying this is the beginning of the end of Nicolas
Maduro's government. He just addressed a huge crowd along with another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez. Who had been under house arrest since
President Maduro says he retains the loyalty of military leaders. So as I say, the situation is extremely fluid. Let's bring in Stefano Pozzebon,
who is on the phone. One of our reporters on the ground in amongst things in Caracas. Stefano, describe where you are and what is going on.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. I'm in Altamira square for here is a (INAUDIBLE) antigovernment opposition here in Caracas where
hundreds and hundreds of opposition supporters have gathered to hear from the word of Juan Guaido. Hearing essentially what the message to the
nation from the opposition leader is. Juan Guaido was speaking live, was speaking here in Altamira just a few minutes ago. And this square is only
about 200 meters from the key military airbase where the military uprising this morning took place.
We see that Juan Guaido was here just a few minutes ago next to him where some of those military men joined his uprising and now hundreds and
hundreds of opposition supporters wave flags, demanding and chanting an immediate resignation of Nicolas Maduro and demanding an end to the
economic collapse that is bringing this country really back to its knees. We have been covering the story time and time again and we've called this
for months. But let's remember that what is pushing all these people onto the street is the most dramatic economic collapse in the Western
Hemisphere. We will stay very much present in as the situation evolves here in Caracas.
ANDERSON: Stefano, there is one factor that could be critical of course in how this all plays out and that is the military. Is Guaido supported by
the military at this point?
POZZEBON: Yes, exactly, Becky. That's essentially the main question everybody is asking here in Caracas. How widespread is Guaido's support in
the bulk of the military? That has been the same call at the moment, the key moment that turned to decree when swore himself in as acting president
of Venezuela. From that moment you heard time and time again the military top brass to join, side with him and to defect against Maduro.
Those calls have been last unheard until today. Today we are seeing for the first-time military men in Venezuela saying that they recognize Guaido
as the acting President and saying that they're ready to stay put as long as it's necessary for Nicolas Maduro to be taken out of office. That is
yet to be understood how many others, military units are also uprising in the countryside and the other areas of the country -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Stefano Pozzebon is on the ground. Apologize for the quality of some of the images but they are coming to you live from Caracas, just
earlier or live from Caracas. We're toggling between the two as we get more pictures in for you.
These events in Venezuela could have an impact, of course, on the entire region. For some perspective on all of this, let's bring in CNN's Rafael
Romo, a longtime observer of politics in Latin and South America. I know you recently interviewed Guaido. Firstly, how do you assess what is going
on the ground as we speak and why is this happening now?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well as you mentioned I had an opportunity to interview Juan Guaido recently and he has very specific goals, three
goals to be more precise.
[11:05:00] Number one, what he calls the end of the usurpation. In his mind that's the belief of his political movement. President Nicolas Maduro
is a usurper, an illegitimate President and he should not be in power. So number one, there calling for the end of what they call the usurpation.
Number two, they want to create a transition government in which the order would be restored to Venezuela and people would be able to have a country
more at peace. And number three, calling for free independent and transparent elections.
What he's saying today, Juan Guaido, is that the first phase of these three goals has begun and he says that he has the support of the Armed Forces.
Now, on the other side, President Maduro says that he has been in touch with all of the commanders of all the military zones in Venezuela and they
have reassured him that they are loyal to his government. He said in a tweet earlier today, nerves of steel, I have spoken with commanders of all
the zones in the country, who have expressed their total loyalty to the people, to the Constitution and to the fatherland. I call for maximum
popular mobilization to ensure the victory of peace. And he ends by saying, venceremos -- translation, we will win.
At this point it is very difficult to assess what portion of the military is siding with Guaido. We have seen the images coming out of Caracas but
it remains to be seen how the rest of the country is reacting to this.
Now you were making a very important point, Becky, which is that it's not only about Venezuela. About 3 million people have fled Venezuela because
of hunger, because the hack of basic necessities, medications, and have gone to countries like Colombia, like Panama, Ecuador where they have
created their own humanitarian crisis.
Now, we also have to talk about the role of the United States calling for the end of the Maduro regime. And Juan Guaido is recognized by not only
the countries like the U.S., Canada and the U.K., but about more than 50 countries, mainly the greatest democracies around the world. So very
chaotic situation. And it remains to be seen what's going to happen after all this -- Becky.
ANDERSON: As you speak, we're looking at live pictures of protesters throwing rocks, as far as I can see, into or at the military base there in
Caracas. They throw rocks. They move towards the barrier and then they retreat, one assumes, as the military returns some sort of effort. Does
look as if they're just broken through that fence as we speak.
We were discussing with Stefano just how important support from the military will be if Juan Guaido is going to come out on top here. When he
announced what he called, operation freedom earlier today, Rafael, he was flanked by a small group of heavily armed soldiers. Is there any evidence,
though, that he has what would be critical support of the wider military at this point?
ROMO: Not so far, Becky. And let me explain that a little bit more. For many, many years President Nicolas Maduro has made sure that he treats his
generals the best way possible. And by the way, Venezuela has about 2,000 generals. For a country that size, it's way too many generals. Which
means a lot of people have been promoted that probably shouldn't have been. But he wants to keep his generals happy. And that's probably the reason
why he's still in power.
Now, Juan Guaido has repeatedly said this morning and in the last few hours that he has the support of the vast majority of the military and in some
parts of Venezuela that might be true but we are talking about when is that critical support going to happen when they're able to actually go against
the Maduro government and say we're not going to support you anymore.
But something that is very indicative to me, Becky, is the following. Juan Guaido this morning was able to go to the house of former political
Leopoldo Lopez who is supposed to be under house arrest. He took him out of there. They went together to the airbase, La Carlota, in Caracas, the
capital. They made a pronouncement there. And then they moved again to Plaza Altamira, a bastion of the opposition in Caracas. And none of this
was stopped in any way, shape or form by any security forces in Venezuela.
[11:10:00] Which means that at least in that part of Caracas Juan Guaido has the support of police, of the national guard and the military. For the
rest of the country, I think it's still too early to tell which side of the equation the military is going to go.
ANDERSON: You're making a very good point here. One of the clearest signs it seems that at least some military forces were switching sides and you
been making this point. Was that surprise appearance today by Leopoldo Lopez, the high-profile opposition figure who has been under house arrest
since 2007. He did join Juan Guaido on the streets of Caracas earlier saying that the soldiers had freedom. Have a listen to this -- Rafael.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEOPOLDO LOPEZ, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION FIGURE (through translator): We know that the pain of the people is your pain. We know that the pain of the
Armed Forces is the same pain of people going through hunger and difficulty. And that all want a change in this moment. This moment, all
Venezuelans in uniform and without uniform, everyone to the streets. Police, military, civil servants, Venezuelan people take to the streets.
In Venezuela and around the world the announcement is worldwide. The announcement is at this moment the usurpation stops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That's Lopez speaking earlier on. I want to just sort of rewind, Rafael, while we look at these live pictures of protesters outside
what is the fence of this military base in Caracas, sort of the ebbing and flowing in there throwing rocks and then sort of pulling back. We'll keep
on these pictures. But this dramatic day, of course, began with Juan Guaido addressing the nation at the break of dawn. He also spoke to CNN
and praised the role of Venezuela's military in this uprising. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN GUAIDO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): We have the support of a big sector of the Armed Forces. And in the coming hours
we'll be consolidating all their support for the transition in Venezuela. As you know, this is developing and we are working really hard for the
information to start running down the different barracks and units that were determinedly decided to support our side of the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Rafael, that was Juan Guaido earlier on, of course. We're sort of coming back now to realtime and these realtime images of protesters
outside the military base. We have heard from President Maduro and he has tweeted. Nerves of Steel! I have spoken with the commanders of all the
REDIs and ZODI of the country, who have expressed their total loyalty to the people, to the Constitution and to the fatherland. And Rafael, he went
on the say, I call for maximum popular mobilization to ensure the victory of peace. We Will win! He said in Spanish. What happens next?
ROMO: Well one thing that they did this morning that they made sure that the message got out was one of the leaders in the Assembleia Venezuela,
Diosdado Cabello, called on the people and the supporters of Nicolas Maduro to go to the Miraflores Presidential palace, which to me means that they
are not so certain that they have full military support.
And also, Becky, we also have to make sure that we mention a very important part of the equation. For many years now, Nicolas Maduro have made sure
that they have formed armed militias that operate around the country, mainly in Caracas. And these are groups that are more or less organized
that can be called by the President at any moment. We have seen some of them mobilize today and they are able to inflict a lot of damage.
Historically in the last 20 years or so, they have been known to attack groups of civilians. Now we're seeing these groups of civilians that are
at the military airbase protesting and trying to knock down the fence there. But if there was ever a time when militias were going to be called
to action, President Maduro made it known this morning that today was the time. And so, we're waiting to see what's going to happen not only in
Caracas but around the country. The risk for bloodshed, Becky, unfortunately, is very great.
ANDERSON: Yes, Rafael, for the time being, I'm going to let you go but thank you for helping us understand all of this. Your analysis incredibly
important at what is this momentous time.
[11:15:00] And I've talked about historic moments in Venezuela's history time and again it seems over the last sort of months. But this clearly an
uptick in how and what Juan Guaido believes is the next step for the country. Make no mistake, this isn't just about the pictures we are now
seeing in Caracas.
Here's why. America's Secretary of State coming out in support of what is this coup attempt. Tweeting that Washington, quote, fully supports the
Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Ending his message of support in Spanish, the country's main language, of course,
estamos Unidos Venezuela, meaning, we are united Venezuela.
So it is very important we get you on the ground in DC. Let's get you over to Washington, to CNN's U.S. security reporter, Kylie Atwood. And one has
to assume that this didn't catch the American administration off guard. What are we hearing from the U.S. at this point?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY REPORTER: Well we have heard from the Trump administration support for Guaido for months now. I mean, that they
had hoped that there would be some change in terms of leadership in Venezuela away from Maduro sooner than now.
But the question then is, is this military supported potential coup actually going to come to fruition and if it isn't, if it's on the fence,
would the U.S. step in and provide any more support for Guaido? But we are hearing whole hearted support from the Trump administration this morning
for these actions and for some support that we are seeing for Guaido from the military in Venezuela.
I want to point to a tweet from the highest U.S. official we have heard yet on this issue, Vice President Pence. He said to Juan Guaido, the national
assembly and all the freedom loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in #operacionlibertad -- Estamos con ustedes. We are
with you. America will stand with you until freedom and democracy are restored.
That is an ardent thrust of support from the U.S. and they are continuing to say that the Trump administration, the President himself has been
briefed on this situation, is following the developments and still supporting Guaido in his efforts here.
And of course, we are heard also from Senator Marco Rubio this morning who has been a huge supporter of Guaido in getting rid of Maduro. And he told
the Venezuelan military in a tweet today that right now in the hours and days ahead, they could write history. So again, encouraging them to
continue with this action.
ANDERSON: Will the U.S. offer military support at this stage? That is a very big question. We continue to watch what are these live images coming
to us from Caracas. These protesters outside of a military base where they have been throwing rocks at those inside the base, running towards the
fence and pulling back as the military returns some sort of effort. We're going to take a very short break. Do not go away. These are breaking
developments out of Venezuela where it has been a dramatic morning. Stay with us.
[11:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Look at how we're doing. Is it necessary that in this country which is so rich that we have to live like
this? It's miserable. It's not fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, for years now CNN has been getting you on the ground in Venezuela bringing you the real stories. Right now this morning all eyes
on the military and their next move. This is the picture on the ground today. Earlier Stefano Pozzebon saw live ammunition being fired from both
sides. Here's what he told us a short time ago from Caracas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POZZEBON: Opposition supporters will reply with stones and Molotov cocktails being shot at the men in uniform. But the significance today is
that there were men in uniform on the side of Juan Guaido. They say that they're here to support his coup for an end of this dictatorship. And this
triggered an intense standoff with live shots being fired -- as you can see these are the live shots that have been fired on both sides from both
forces loyal to Nicolas Maduro and those who have taken the side, defected against the embattled Venezuelan leader and taken the side of Juan Guaido.
For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well for more on what could play out there in Venezuela, let's speak to Eric Farnsworth. Whose Vice President of the Council of the
Americas. He joins us from Washington. Earlier today we saw Juan Guaido flanked by some soldiers, calling this the next phase or the final phase of
operation freedom. Look, call this a coup or not and that is clearly a question up for debate, will Juan Guaido succeed in unseating Maduro this
ERIC FARNSWORTH, VICE PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS: Well, Becky, thanks for having me back. You know that's the key question and I think
it's the key on which every military person right now is having to weigh the potential that this will succeed. If it does, they'll want to be on
the winning side but they're probably not going to show their true stripes unless they can be confident it is going to be a victorious effort. And
so, I think you're going to see a lot of people kind of hanging back, waiting to see how circumstances develop.
I don't think most of the military, to be honest, is loyal to Maduro. I think they're loyal to the privileges that the regime has given them. They
don't seem to be terribly ideological. I think that they certainly could be convinced to switch sides to the extent that they believe that that will
be the side that comes out on top. So will have to wait and see. But it's clearly a fluid situation.
ANDERSON: It's not clear who is advising Juan Guaido at this point. So why do you believe this is happening now?
FARNSWORTH: It's a really good question. Obviously, you are aware of all the efforts that have taken place since the beginning of this year when
Guaido according to Venezuela's own constitution became the interim President of Venezuela. And rejected the second term of Maduro who was
elected in a fraudulent election in May of last year.
But since that time the efforts have really lost some momentum and so there's been a feeling for some time particularly in the opposition, as
well as observers, that something dramatic needs to happen in order to change the scenario on the ground in Venezuela. To recapture the
initiative, to put the regime on the defensive.
[11:25:00] And by spraying Leopoldo Lopez from house arrest today, showing up at a Venezuelan Air Force Base with military figures flanking him.
That's a pretty dramatic escalation and I think it shows people that the opposition or the interim government now is fully committed to seeing this
through to the end.
ANDERSON: We've seen messages of support from senior members of the Trump administration including the Vice President. What sort of support does
Washington provide for Guaido at this point and is the U.S. military support a realistic option at this point?
FARNSWORTH: Well, I think the U.S. is certainly watching this very, very carefully and I would anticipate offering support particularly in the
context of intelligence activities, anticipating what the Maduro regime might do. Also trying to reopen social media and the flow of information.
I mean, this is an effort that's happening in Caracas, the capital city, the main urban environment, but Venezuela is a huge country. And to the
extent Maduro is successful in not allowing the information to get out to the broader country, perhaps he can ring fence this issue around Caracas
and it won't escalate.
But if the information can get out to Maracaibo, to Zulia states, to Tachira states, to Bolivar states, you're going to see other rest of areas
perhaps rising up. So they're going to try to nationalize this. In terms of the use of force, look, there's a long history here particularly the
coup from 2002, what happened in other efforts in Latin America. I think the United States is probably going to see how things develop. I would not
anticipate the use of force by the United States. This is a Venezuelan issue. There doesn't need to be use of U.S. force. It's Venezuelans
trying to restore constitutional order in their own country.
ANDERSON: While you speak, we're looking at Images coming into CNN. We've been on images of protesters outside a military base in Caracas. I can't
be 100 percent certain but this certainly looks like the interior of a base, a number of military helicopters and just behind the hangar that we
are looking at now, plumes of black smoke. Whether that is the result of some action taken by protesters or somebody else -- I'm going to be very
transparent about this and say. It's not clear at this point, but you can see a number of people there dressed in military fatigues who've been
moving relatively quickly around for a discipline environment. It has to be said, so some sense of concern there as we look at these images.
Let's just talk about the sort of support, if you will, for Juan Guaido from the international community. Again, not to suggest that it's ebbed
and flowed but there was concerted support from much of the international community. But there are significant outliers who didn't show support for
Juan Guaido or who have specifically shown support for his nemesis President Maduro. So how do you assess -- as the international community
watches these images -- this next potentially very significant era in Venezuela's history or future, how do you assess support on both sides?
FARNSWORTH: Yes, I think it's a really important question. Clearly the international community as represented by those who have come out already
in support of recognizing Guaido is going to see this in a favorable way. That's the Lima Group of Latin American countries plus Canada, the United
States -- which of already spoken -- parts of Europe, certainly, Japan. These are countries that have been fighting for rhetorically, certainly
diplomatically for a democratic transition in Venezuela now for some time. And so I think they're going to be supportive of that.
The countries that really have the most to lose in this scenario are China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Turkey. You know, the international authoritarian
community, if you want to put it that way, the club of authoritarians. And they have a lot invested in the continuation of Maduro. Whether or not
they are going to try to fight to keep him in power, though, I think is a different question.
Certainly Cuba is fully invested in the success of the Maduro regime. China, I think, at the end of the day doesn't probably care if Maduro
remains. What they want is that their multibillion dollars of loans are paid off and done so successfully. Russia is in the game to try to provoke
the United States too try to bust international sanctions, to try to be invested in the Venezuelan energy sector.
[11:30:00] But having said that if push comes to shove, I wouldn't anticipate the Russians sending in troops or anything like that.
So this is going to be something that I think the Venezuelans will resolve on your own probably with the rhetorical and intelligence and perhaps
logistical support of some of their outside supporters.
ANDERSON: Sir, it's been a pleasure having you on. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. We've seen an unprecedented collapse in the oil
market putting pressure on Maduro in Venezuela. Hyperinflation in a league of its own, this sanctions squeeze, there count be more pressure on the
incumbent President at present.
Right after this very quick break I'll be speaking to someone who's been very close to the Venezuelan President. His former Chief of Staff. And we
will be back with our raft of reporters on the ground. But we are seeing are these dramatic live pictures. This happening in front of your eyes,
folks. That's right here on connect the world. Stay with us, you're watching CNN.
ANDERSON: Let me get you to Washington. Carlos Vicki oh, a diplomat representing Juan Guaido is in the U.S. He's holding a press conference.
Let's listen in.
CARLOS VECCHIO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION DIPLOMAT (through translator): First of all, thank you for the support given to our people during the past few
months and also today. Please continue supporting us. Please increase your support and pressure on the dictatorship so that the suffering of our
people comes to an end.
Please keep an eye on safeguard the rise, especially the right of life of the Venezuelans who are demonstrating peacefully today. So this is the
beginning of the end and this end is very close. So it is the time for a definite change for Venezuela getting to the path of democracy and we can
then form the transition government and to call for free and transparent elections as our interim President has stated clearly.
(in English) Interim President Juan Guaido has announced the beginning of the Venezuelan libertad, Freedom Operation. He has called the military
institutions to support the Venezuelan people on the streets and to restore our democracy in our country.
[11:35:00] And also to support the full implementation of the Constitution approved by the people in 1999. This is only the beginning. This is an
operation which is developing right now. We will see more events in the hours and days to come.
I want to be very clear with the international community. This is not a military coup. This is a constitutional process led by the Venezuelan
people under the leadership of a civilian. The interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaido. He's calling for the restoration of our
constitution and support for the restoration of our democratic system.
We want to send a clear message also to the dictator Nicolas Maduro. Your time is over. Venezuela is ready for a change. You must facilitate the
transition in our country. You must allow the Venezuelan people to reestablish the democratic system. The timing is now. Venezuela is ready
for a change. Nobody's going to. Stop it.
Also we would like to send a message to the international community. First of all, thank you for your support, for supporting the Venezuelan people in
order to recover our democracy. Please stay watching all the events that is happening right now and do whatever you can do in order to protect the
Venezuelan rights, particularly the life rights.
Finally, and this is an important message, we will recover our democratic system. It is time to set the transitional government in order to stop the
suffering of the Venezuelans. And we want to be ready to call for a free and fair election soon. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Vecchio, are you saying the time for diplomacy is over or are you willing to take --?
VECCHIO: No, no, no. Totally different. The people should remain on the streets. We should be on the streets demonstrating peacefully. And that's
what we are doing right now across our territory. And also according to the international community to support the Venezuelan people to protect
their rights but at the same time to increase all the pressure they can do in order to force Maduro to leave. And to facilitate the transition
process in Venezuela to reestablish democracy and to call for free and fair election. So the international community has an important role at this
moment in time to help us and to support us to facilitate this process.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Have you got the support of the military right now or the commanders of the army? Have you got the support
of the whole country? And also in sensitive places where the Armed Forces have deployed --?
VECCHIO (through translator): This is not just one incident. We're going to see how this develops in the next few hours. It'll be demonstrations
throughout the whole country and we've seen demonstrations for Armed Forces also internationally. But you must remember that there is censorship in
Venezuela today. What is happening is not being broadcast in the national media in Venezuela. Venezuelans are having a hard time with the social
networks to find out what's happening. So it's taking a while for people to really know what is happening right now in our country.
So the message is clear. This is happening nationally. There is our forces are operating nationally. And we make a call for our people to
continue on the streets so that the Armed Forces continue supporting us to and the usurpation of power.
So the armed groups in Caracas -- what we have said is that our Armed Forces is with us. And the regime had to (INAUDIBLE) and call these groups
called collectives. They will not be controlled by our Armed Forces. This is a clear call to restore the order and the Constitution and our
democratic systems. You must understand, this is a developing process, difficult in term of connotation or we trust the will of our people. This
is a time to change. The time has come so that we can put an end to usurpation led by Juan Guaido. Being committed by a civilian, leading the
people and calling on the Armed Forces to defend the rights of Venezuelans, to stop the usurpation of power and defend Venezuelans.
[11:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Have you been in touch with the U.S. government?
VECCHIO (through translator): We've been talking to the international community with the United States government with Latin American
governments, with European governments. We have done this throughout the morning. We have had total support of the whole region, Latin America
also, Europe mainly, the Spanish government and also the U.S. government. So I can say that I'm grateful for their support. It is support for the
Venezuelan people for democracy and also to supporting the interim President. Keep an eye what is happening and put more pressure on the
Maduro regime so that we can facilitate this decision process for the benefit of our people.
(In English): We are using the army force to support the Constitution. We have the people on the street peacefully demonstrating for their rights.
So we are asking them to keep these demonstrations on the streets, across the territory in our country. But at the same time calling for the support
of the military officers to protect the people and at the same time to restore our Constitution. So that's what we are doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Has the Spanish government and European governments expressed their support for this operation?
VECCHIO (through translator): All the region will make clear statements supporting the positive change in Venezuela and I would stress supporting
an interim president in order to restore the Democratic system. So I've been very clear, this is not a coup d'etat. Therefore countries and their
leaders have been clear with supporting a civilian or interim president, according to the Constitution, in order to restore the right our people
have to have a Democratic system. This according to the OAS charter.
We have the right as a people to have a Democratic system in place. And other countries of the region have their duty to defend the right we have
as a people and voices this. And that's what they have been doing. Defending the democratic principle, defending and siding with democratic
people in the streets who are doing so peacefully to restore the constitutional order. From making an appeal to our Armed Forces to support
us in this process of change. So it's a profoundly constitutional process as I said earlier.
I will like to focus now -- this is the most important thing. This is the key. We can talk about that later on another occasion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Can you give us some more concrete information relating to the military information?
VECCHIO (through translator): Look, I cannot disclose details that are very sensitive to put people's lives at risk. This is a delicate issue. I
want to give you just one piece of information. I don't know whether you have realized Leopoldo Lopez is in the streets. Leopoldo Lopez on the
streets. So don't you get the message to what is happening. Who is in control of the country? Are we going to believe those who have been lying
This is a clear sign and I have said it. It is a developing process. It's not just one single incident. We have to stand firm on the streets. We
have said with our people and continue putting pressure so that the rest of the Armed Forces join us in this process. Which will not be stopped and to
get rid of this government. That their ambition for power has taken Venezuela to its biggest crisis in history. This is what we have to do.
This is a message that we have to send out. The ambition of this single person cannot banish 30 million Venezuelans. The time has come for this
change to make this change happen not just for Venezuela but for the whole region.
ANDERSON: You've been listening to Juan Guaido's diplomat in the U.S. thanking the international community for their support. He says this is
only the beginning and we'll be seeing more of what is this operation that you were looking at live images of in the hours and days to come. This is
not a coup he said this is a constitutional process.
Asked whether he believes that Juan Guaido and the opposition has the support of the military. He said the Armed Forces are with us. These
images, though, not evidencing that, not by any stretch of the imagination.
[11:45:00] And what you see at the front of your screens are protesters and what you see in front of them is the military. And we are seeing increase
in the dramatic pictures from Venezuela. Military vehicles here seem to be driving into the crowd. These images now slightly different. But just 30
seconds or so ago we've seen one armored car on fire. Rafael Romo watching these live pictures. Your thoughts, sir?
ROMO: Yes, this seems to be the first organized push by the National Guard in Venezuela against those protesters gathering around the La Carlota
military airbase. It seems that not necessarily are new, Becky, I should point that out. We have seen that I want to say since 2013 in different
parts of Venezuela. But the reality is that the protesters are unarmed. They've tossing rocks to the members of the National Guard. On the other
side you have these armed guards with heavy weaponry, rifles and water cannons.
And so again, repeat one of the points that I was making before, the risk unfortunately for bloodshed here is very great. Now, we have not seen yet
what's happening in other parts of Venezuela. And to go back to one of the points that you were making before and what Vecchio was saying, is that
this is not a coup because from their perspective Nicolas Maduro should not be in power. He's a usurper and he's not the legitimate President of
Venezuela -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Sure. Before I lose you, sir, I just want to go back to some movies we saw just about a minute or so ago. Viewers, these are pretty
dramatic. Have a look at this.
(IMAGES OF MILITARY VEHICLES DRIVING INTO THE CROWD OF PROTESTERS)
ANDERSON: These images just moments ago of the Venezuelan National Guard pushing protesters back. And at one point in these images you actually saw
one of those trucks driving into some of these protesters. Back live now with the images as we speak.
OK, Jorge Luis Perez Valery is on the ground in Venezuela. Sir, where are you? And what is going on where you are? Jorge, can you hear me? OK.
We'll see if we can bring Jorge back in just a moment. Clearly, communications with him on the ground as this unfolds, very difficult.
Rafael, again, we are seeing images now from different environments in Caracas. Just walk us through what we have seen to date.
ROMO: It is the beginning of what Juan Guaido calls the end of the usurpation. Very early this morning he went to a military airbase in
Caracas, the capital, and stood along Leopoldo Lopez. Who some of our viewers may remember that he was a presidential candidate. At one point he
spent several years in prison. He was considered a political prisoner by the opposition in Venezuela. And they stood together at this military
airbase saying they had support of the Armed Forces in Venezuela.
On the other hand, President Nicolas Maduro has said via Twitter that he has the support of all of his generals. And at this point we have a
situation where both side are claiming that they have the support of the Armed Forces but the reality is that it's a very foolish situation, very
chaotic as we are looking at the scenes.
Now to put it into perspective, this is not too far from the military airbase.
[11:50:00] There is distance of just a few kilometers between where you saw that bridge and the military airbase. And we see groups, numerous groups
of mainly young male protesters facing the National Guard that has water cantons. And on the other hand the protesters are tossing Molotov
cocktails against these National Guard vehicles. We have reports earlier from Jorge Luis Perez Valery, our CNN en Espanol correspondent on the
ground, saying that he heard live ammunition being fired on both sides. We don't have any reports at this point, Becky, of whether anybody has died.
But as we have seen images, there are sure to be many injuries already. And let's remind our viewers, that the situation in reality only has been
going on for a few hours in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.
ANDERSON: Thank you, sir. I want to bring in Temir Porras Ponceleon. Now he was chief of staff to Nicolas Maduro from 2007 to 2013. Enough is
enough, says Juan Guaido and his supporters. They have called this the beginning of the end of Nicholas Maduro. As you watch these images live
from Venezuela, is it the beginning of the end?
TEMIR PORRAS PONCELEON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO NICOLAS MADURO: Hello, Becky. Thanks for having me. Well the problem with that claim is that
Juan Guaido and his allies have been saying that for at last three months. And it's always been the beginning of the end. It was the beginning of the
end in January. Then in February 23 when they try to cross the Colombian/Venezuelan border it was also the beginning of the end. So I'm
worried because it sounds a lot like wishful thinking. And like the only strategy of the Guaido camp in this crisis is to increase the pressure and
generate a regime crisis in the country with the risk, of course, of the country going down the path of political violence as we have seen it.
I hear also that there are peaceful protests but what I see on the screens are people protesting violently and violently again Armed Forces that are
supposed to be backing them. So again, I think it's an irresponsible claim.
ANDERSON: We acceptable haven't seen evidence of full-on what would be critical military support for Juan Guaido and this is now been going on for
some hours after his dawn announcement. This was operation freedom today.
I want to put this to you very basically. Is there any sane argument to any longer defend the administration of Nicolas Maduro? There has been a
complete collapse in the industry around what is the world's largest oil reserves, hyperinflation, completely out of control. And whether you
support Maduro because you are paid to do so -- as are potentially the generals -- or you've lived under this regime -- some will call it -- which
has completely decimated daily life. What are the arguments at this point?
PONCELEON: Well, I don't think the issue here is defending Nicolas Maduro's government or policies or results. It's about overcoming the
current crisis. Venezuela is in a stalemate political situation. We're in a situation of blockade. And the only -- again, the only question here is
how to overcome the political crisis in order to tackle those problems that you are pointing out, the economic and social problems the Venezuelan
people is suffering --
ANDERSON: So what is the answer to that?
PONCELEON: The answer to that is --
ANDERSON: How do you overcome -- ?
PONCELEON: Yes, the different Venezuelan factions, Venezuela is a very divided country and this must be understood. For whatever reason
internally Venezuela is very divided. Second, the Venezuelan military has a history of institutional behavior. The Venezuelan military in my opinion
will side with the government of Nicolas Maduro because they perceive it as the legitimate government of Venezuela irrespective of their opinion on the
results of Mr. Maduro's administration or not.
And third, this country desperately needs to recover the functioning of its democratic institutions. And the only way of achieving that is through
dialogue, is through negotiation.
[11:55:00] And through a national agreement to recover what I call the democratic coexistence spirit that is needed to overcome the serious
challenges of Venezuelan society.
ANDERSON: Let me ask you this. Do you personally regret the time that you spent supporting Nicolas Maduro as his Chief of Staff between 2007 and
2013? Is this a different man than that which you were Chief of Staff for back in the day?
PONCELEON: Well I was the Chief of Staff of Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro. And back then Venezuela was under the leadership of President Hugo
Chaves. Who in my opinion, was a much more assertive, a much more strategic, political leadership, than the one that the President Nicolas
Maduro has shown since 2013. And certainly the situation has deteriorated under Maduro's rule.
But again, the problem of the Venezuelan society goes back two decades, goes back to the beginning of the Bolivarian revolution. We have had a
government, a Chavista government and then a Chavista opposition that in time have not been willing to accept that the Venezuelan society requires a
diversity of opinions that those sensibilities in the country exist and they will prevail even after the crisis and that a functioning democracy
can only be achieved through negotiation and through dialogue. Not to this type of extreme approaches that have the danger of even achieving a split
or a division of our Armed Forces and could lead us even to a civil conflict. Again, the only solution for the Venezuelan society is go back
to the table and negotiate.
ANDERSON: Temir, it's been important having you on. Thank you, sir. Your analysis incredibly insight full at this point as we question whether Juan
Guaido will prevail in what is an up raising in Caracas this day. Described by Juan Guaido this morning at dawn as "Operation Freedom".
Described by Maduro and his administration -- those who have been speaking out about this -- as a coup.
The dramatic events we're watching now aren't just coming out of nowhere, of course. The economy has been faltering. That's meant no jobs, no food,
no medicine. Even some of those who've left have grown desperate. CNN's Isa Soares recently saw some of this firsthand and she joins us now from
London. We've got 90 seconds or so before we get to the top of this hour. Just assess what you are seeing and describe what you know.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, this could potentially be a pivotal moment in the history of Venezuela. But of course, the next
48 hours will be --
ANDERSON: Isa, if I can stop you, I need to stop you there. The military in Venezuela is now, I'm being told speaking. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES SPOKESMAN (through translator): -- the provisions in our Constitution. This is in accordance to our
constitution but if we need to use our weapons to defend and uphold this principle, we will do so.
I'm certain that this act -- who was led wanted to sort of have bloodshed in the streets of Caracas. The whole rest of the country is in normality.
The remaining military units are in complete normality. Doing their own daily work. We hold responsible for any violence, any bloodshed and any
deaths that takes place from this time onto those fascist leaders, anti- patriotic, a leadership that does not deserve the respect of Venezuelans and therefore the respect of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.
So you are responsible for any act of violence. And from this time on is generated in the streets of Venezuela. Because you are the ones who are
conducting a coup d'etat resorting to using military men who have a constitutional duty and a historic duty that we should carry out during
this time to defend our homeland. You are the ones who are trying to divide and to create to create discord. You don't reach through violence.