CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela warned Americans in a video posted on Wednesday that intervening in his nation “would lead to a Vietnam worse than they can imagine.”
The video, posted on his social media accounts, got here out on the identical day Mr. Maduro gave an interview to Russia’s RIA information company through which he appeared extra conciliatory, saying he was open to talks with the nation’s opposition but rejecting requires a brand new election.
“I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition,” Mr. Maduro mentioned, naming Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and Russia amongst doable mediators, but giving no indication of getting made progress in arranging the talks.
The United States final week acknowledged Venezuela’s opposition chief, Juan Guaidó, because the nation’s performing president, as have 26 different nations.
Many 1000’s of Venezuelans poured into the streets final week and once more this week in anti-government protests referred to as by Mr. Guaidó. Mismanagement and corruption beneath Mr. Maduro has plunged Venezuela, an oil-rich nation that was as soon as the wealthiest in Latin America, right into a humanitarian disaster. Many of its residents are going hungry and sick, and greater than three million have fled overseas.
As a part of a push oust Mr. Maduro, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions that reduce off his authorities’s entry to the income from oil gross sales within the United States, one in every of Venezuela’s major sources of money, and seeks to make it obtainable to Mr. Guaidó as an alternative.
A presidential election final yr returned Mr. Maduro to workplace for a second six-year time period, but it was marred by widespread stories of fraud and coercion. Several European Union nations have referred to as for brand spanking new elections — a prospect even the opposition says will take a while — and have warned that they may acknowledge the opposition chief if Mr. Maduro doesn’t schedule a brand new vote.
China and Russia have continued to help Mr. Maduro, as have Cuba and Bolivia.
Mr. Guaidó also took part in protests on Wednesday at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, where he was swarmed by international reporters. Wearing a white lab coat, he linked arms with medical students and marched with them up a roadway, before speeding off on the back of a motorbike.
The demonstration was one of a handful in the city on Wednesday, though on a smaller scale than some recent demonstrations. Some workers walked out of their jobs for hours in protest against Mr. Maduro and his government, gathering on corners through the capital.
“We protest because we are going through a lot of need,” said Darío Rodríguez, 50, a construction worker demonstrating in the Las Mercedes neighborhood. “Insecurity, money, food — my salary is not even enough to buy salt.”
The government has tried to impede reporters covering the protests. On Tuesday, security forces detained a number of journalists covering demonstrations outside the presidential palace in Caracas.
Two French journalists were still being held on Wednesday and two Chilean journalists were deported, according to the national press union. Two Venezuelan journalists were detained and later released.
In his RIA interview, Mr. Maduro rebuffed calls for a new presidential election, saying that “if the imperialists want new elections, let them wait until 2025.”
Mr. Maduro also dismissed the possibility of military intervention by the United States to remove him from power, a prospect raised by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser. He called Mr. Bolton “infantile” and “clowning” for speaking to reporters while holding a notepad with the phrase “5,000 troops to Colombia” written on top.
He took a blunter tone in a video posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Let’s not allow a Vietnam in Latin America,” Mr. Maduro said in the video. “If the United States intends to intervene here, they will have a Vietnam worse than what they can imagine. Let’s not allow violence.”
In an Opinion article published Wednesday in The New York Times, Mr. Guaidó wrote that the opposition’s effort to oust Mr. Maduro would require “support from key military contingents.”
“We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces,” he wrote. “We have offered amnesty to all those who are found not guilty of crimes against humanity.”
The opposition has been meeting with midlevel officers to discuss amnesty for defectors, a prominent opposition member told The Times last week.
Mr. Guaidó also called for international backing while he takes steps to set up a functioning government.
“I have appealed to António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, as well as to several humanitarian agencies, for support in easing the humanitarian crisis,” he wrote.
Mr. Guaidó’s envoy to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, said in Washington on Wednesday that he was starting the complex process of securing Venezuelan government assets held in bank accounts in the United States. He said he was meeting with White House and Treasury officials this week.
Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Vecchio said the country needs to have a “fair and transparent election,” but that could take some time. “It’s not just a matter of days.”
Elliott Abrams, the new United States special envoy for Venezuela, told reporters that American officials and Mr. Guaidó were looking around the globe for assets belonging to the Venezuelan government. Where possible, he said, the United States will ask countries to freeze the assets to keep Mr. Maduro’s government from accessing them, he said.