Desperate Guaidó calls Maduro a ‘dictator’ as Venezuela’s military prepares for potential US invasion

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CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro appealed during his speech for reconciliation and talks with the US-backed opposition, which has repeatedly tried to remove him.

“There is room for all of us inside Venezuela,” Maduro said during his Independence Day speech on Friday for a group of senior military officials in Caracas.

“We should all give up something to reach an agreement,” said the Bolivarian leader in seeking to resume mediated talks with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself president in January with the support of Washington.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to criticize Maduro’s government, Guaidó held a rally on Independence Day in which he instructed supporters to march to military counterintelligence headquarters, which is the site of the alleged torture of former naval captain Rafael Acosta.

This was his first major public demonstration since the failed coup attempt on April 30, in which he predicted mass military desertion, but that did not materialize.

“There is no longer any valid euphemism to characterize this regime as well as a dictatorship. The systematic violation of human rights, repression, torture … this is clearly identified in the [UN] report,” Guaidó told reporters in Friday.

The report by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet was criticized by the government for its “selective” approach to “alleged extrajudicial executions by the security forces” and deviated significantly from the tone of Bachelet’s comments to Maduro in June, suggesting that she understood the central role that US sanctions had played in creating Venezuela’s economic disaster.

In Oslo representatives of Maduro and Guaidó met several times to discuss a possible way out of the economic and political crisis in Venezuela, although their attitudes towards the negotiations are very different.

While Guaidó and the US State Department have insisted that the only possible solution is to remove the socialist leader, Maduro said earlier this week that the two parties would reach a “grand agreement on mutual understanding and peace, dialogue and democracy for Venezuela “by the end of the year.

Case of Rafael Acosta

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The last round of talks in Oslo, Norway, was canceled after the death of former naval captain Rafael Acosta in prison a week after he was arrested on charges of treason for allegedly conspiring to overthrow Maduro.

While the opposition claims that Acosta was tortured in custody, Venezuelan commander Remigio Ceballos has stated, without naming him, that the military “regrets events related to the loss of the retired naval officer” and said that the government was investigating what led to death of Acosta.

Six months after Guaido’s self-proclamation

Venezuela is undergoing a political-economic crisis that intensified in January after Guaidó proclaimed himself acting president in an attempt to oust Maduro.

The opposition leader was recognized by the United States, which began to impose sanctions on Venezuela and freeze billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

The Russian Federation, which recognizes mature as the only legitimate president of Venezuela, said the United States is strangling the country with sanctions, in an attempt to drag it to chaos.

Maduro called Guaidó a “puppet of the US” and accused the Americans of orchestrating a coup in Venezuela to force a change of government and claim the vast natural resources of the country.

Meanwhile, Maduro announced on Friday that he ordered the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to hold new military exercises on July 24 to defend the country’s borders.

“I gave orders for new military exercises, military exercises that will be developed on July 24… for the defense of the Caribbean Sea, the Venezuelan coasts and the Venezuelan borders, especially to test our national defense plans,” he said.

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