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TRUMP TELLS VENESUELAN MILITARY TO RECONSIDER THEIR SUPPORT FOR MADURO

US President Donald Trump has appealed directly to the Venezuelan military to abandon their support for President Nicolás Maduro.

In a speech in Miami, the president warned “the eyes of the entire world” were on those propping him up.

Mr Trump said those who continued to back Mr Maduro’s government were risking their own futures and lives.

President Maduro condemned Mr Trump’s speech as “almost Nazi-style” and said the military would respond with unity.

Venezuela’s president is refusing to step down or call new elections, despite mounting international pressure.

It comes after dozens of countries, including the US, have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president.

The head of the country’s opposition-led National Assembly declared himself interim leader during anti-government protests last month.

Mr Guaidó has vowed to oversee fresh elections on the grounds that Mr Maduro’s 2018 re-election was flawed.

Mr Maduro has criticised outside influence in the country’s internal affairs and has maintained the support of his military and several key allies.

Mr Trump gave a speech on Monday at Miami’s Florida International University to a crowd of mostly Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants.

The area is home to tens of thousands of Venezuelan expatriates – many of whom fled Mr Maduro and his predecessor, and support for Mr Guaidó there is strong.

During the speech, Mr Trump railed against the Venezuelan government which he described as a “failed dictatorship”.

He described President Maduro himself as a “Cuban puppet” and accused a “small handful at the top of Maduro’s regime” of stealing and hiding money.

“We know who they are and we know where they keep the billions of dollars they have stolen,” he said.

He also implored the military to ensure the safety of Mr Guaidó and opposition protesters.

“They are risking their future, they are risking their lives and Venezuela’s future for a man controlled by the Cuban military and protected by a private army of Cuban soldiers,” Mr Trump said.

The president also said he believed the military had a “vital role” in the country’s transition if they switched sides. He urged them to take-up the opposition leader’s “generous offer” of an amnesty or face consequences.

“You will find no safe harbour, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything,” he warned.

 

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