12:49 GMT13 June 2021
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    On 5 July, Venezuela celebrates the anniversary of its 1811 Declaration of Independence, which made it the first Spanish colony in South America to declare independence. In recent years, the holiday was also named National Armed Forces Day.

    On Venezuelan Independence Day on July 5th, President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido took drastically different approaches. While President Maduro called for a continuation of dialogue with opposition representatives mediated by Norway, Guaido rallied a march of protest. 

    “There is room for all of us within Venezuela,” Maduro said in a speech before a gathering of top military officials in Caracas, according to a Reuters report. “We must all give up something in order to reach an agreement.”

    On Independence Day, Venezuela held a military parade in Caracas, overseen by Maduro. The president also announced major military exercises planned for 24 July. Despite the opposition’s best efforts to sway the support of the military to their cause, President Maduro retains their support, as well as control of state functions.

    ​​​Guaido held a separate event on the day calling on supporters to march toward the nation’s counterintelligence directorate (DGCIM), which opposition claims is responsible for the death of Navy Captain Rafael Acosta due to alleged torture. According to Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez, Maduro ordered “a full and exhaustive investigation to clear up this regrettable event,” The Guardian reported.

    This is the first major opposition gathering since a failed coup attempt led by Guaido on 30 April, according to Reuters. Following the botched coup, the Maduro administration cracked down on Guaido-aligned lawmakers and suspected military defectors. However, the opposition leader was allowed to walk free.

    In the meantime, US National Security Advisor John Bolton, whom US President Donald Trump describes as “absolutely a hawk,” took to Twitter to congratulate Venezuela on its Independence Day and reiterate his support for Guaido.

    “US is proud to be supporting Interim President Guaido & the democratically elected National Assembly, which is courageously working to free Venezuela of a ruthless dictator responsible for Venezuela suffering the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 yrs,” Bolton tweeted. “On Venezuelan Independence Day, the importance of defending democracy and freedom in the Western Hemisphere is clear. The US will continue to support Interim President Guaido & members of the democratically elected National Assembly as they fight for freedom for all Venezuelans.”

    ​He was joined by US Vice President Mike Pence and State Secretary Mike Pompeo.

    “On this day, 208 years ago, the great country of Venezuela declared their independence. The United States will continue to support interim President @jguaido, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people on their road to regain their #LIBERTAD!,” Pence tweeted.

    ​“Today, #Venezuela’s Independence Day, we are reminded of the country’s prosperous past – and the future the Venezuelan people deserve. The US stands with @jguaido, @AsambleaVE, and all Venezuelans yearning for a return to democracy and a brighter future. #EstamosUnidosVE,” US State Secretary Mike Pompeo tweeted.

    ​In May 2018, Maduro won presidential elections by a landslide. The opposition denounced the results, calling them a ruse. In January 2019, Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela and called for Maduro to step down. This spring, Guaido launched “Operation Freedom”, a campaign to rally Venezuelans to peacefully revolt against Maduro’s administration. The 30 April operation failed after the military refused to join the coup.

    The US and its allies recognized Guaido as the Venezuelan leader, while Russia, China, Turkey, Cuba and a number of other countries maintained that Maduro is the nation’s legitimate leader.


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