The Latest: Pence calls Maduro a 'dictator' in video message


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on a National Guard uprising in Venezuela (all times local):

7:35 p.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered a close review of the country’s relationship with the United States in answer to stinging condemnation from the Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence sent a videotaped message to Venezuelans calling Maduro a dictator who maintains power by jailing dissident voices. The video was released Tuesday, a day before the opposition holds nationwide demonstrations calling for the removal of Maduro.

Maduro spoke hours later on state TV, saying Pence hit a 200-year low in relations between the two countries by authorizing a coup.

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The U.S. maintains an embassy in Caracas, but the two countries haven’t exchanged ambassadors in nearly a decade.

A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is in a deepening crisis after two decades of socialist rule that has led to shortages of food and medicine.


7:25 p.m.

The leader of the Organization of American States is praising a decision by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly to stay in the regional group.

Secretary General Luis Almagro on Tuesday said he welcomed a decision by legislators to name new assembly leader Gustavo Tarre Briceno as a special representative to the bloc.

Venezuela’s government announced its withdrawal from the OAS in 2017 after member states began raising questions about the leadership of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Almagro has been one of Maduro’s fiercest critics and has already recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.

Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court declared Monday that the National Assembly’s leadership is illegitimate and nullified its recent decisions.

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Guaido has re-energized the nation’s opposition movement and is calling for mass protests across the country Wednesday.


6:20 p.m.

Some of the Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation are urging President Donald Trump to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s new interim president.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says that “I think now is the moment and leadership can really, really make a difference for the people of Venezuela.”

DeSantis was joined at the White House on Tuesday by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. They exited their meeting with Trump urging him to apply pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Scott says socialism in Venezuela has left it without food, gas and medicine and notes that millions of people have left the country.

Venezuelan opposition leaders are calling for nationwide protests Wednesday. The once-wealthy oil nation is sliding into a deepening political and economic crisis.


12:45 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says Venezuelans have the “unwavering support” of the United States in their effort to restore democracy to their country.

In a video message released Tuesday, Pence called Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power.”

The vice president says the U.S. joins other “freedom-loving” nations in recognizing the popularly elected National Assembly as the “last vestige of democracy” in Venezuela. He says he supports the decision by National Assembly president and opposition leader Juan Guaido to declare Maduro a “usurper” and call for the creation of a transitional government.

Anti-Maduro demonstrations are expected nationwide on Wednesday.

Pence says the American people will be with Venezuelans until democracy is restored.


11:20 a.m.

Foreign ministers of five European countries say they want the European Union to take an active role in international mediation they deem necessary in Venezuela, where the opposition is readying for a new round of anti-government protests on Wednesday.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the foreign affairs ministers of Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands are urging EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to intensify contacts to establish “as soon as possible” a so-called “Group of International Contact.”

“It’s crucially important for Europe to have a significant presence in such Group of Contact in order to promote adequately our common interests,” the statement says.

Venezuela plunged deeper into turmoil Monday as security forces put down a pre-dawn uprising by National Guardsmen that triggered violent street protests.


11 a.m.

Working class neighborhoods in Venezuela’s capital are sifting through charred rubble and smoldering trash after violence erupted a day earlier.

Local merchant Carmen Martinez said Tuesday her neighbors in Caracas took to the streets because they were fed up with rising costs and a lack of basic goods.

Isolated protests broke out after officials arrested more than two dozen National Guardsmen who mounted an uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.

Drivers in one neighborhood veered around an overturned trash bin in the middle of a busy street. Security forces left behind dozens of empty tear gas canisters fired to subdue angry residents.

Student Jesus Veroes says he’s saddened by a clash with police in his neighborhood that left an important cultural center a burned ruin.

Large demonstrations nationwide are expected Wednesday.

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