Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “interim president” has appealed to the country’s military to abandon President Nicolas Maduro and join his side, asking citizens to “extend a hand of friendship” to soldiers to convince them to defect.
Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old head of the opposition-controlled national assembly, called for massive protests next week at an open-air press conference in Caracas, interrupted by frequent cheers of “presidente”.
Hours before, in an interview aired by Latino broadcaster Univision, he suggested to Mr Maduro that he would guarantee safe passage out of the country.
“This amnesty, these guarantees are on the table for everyone who is prepared to put themselves on the side of the constitution in order to recover the democratic order,” he said.
Some American diplomats on Friday evacuated Caracas under police escort, obeying an order from Mr Maduro to leave despite Mr Guido urging them not to.
It was also reported that Russian military contractors had flown into Venezuela to beef up security for Mr Maduro.