18:19 GMT04 August 2020
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    Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he expected to reach a concord of 'mutual understanding and peace' with the opposition by the end of 2019, with the long-running political crisis in the country recently entering its sixth straight month.

    US National Security Adviser John Bolton has called on the Venezuelan military to "protect the freedoms of a democratic Venezuela," saying the armed forces have a "responsibility to safeguard democracy and the constitution," to "protect civilians and ensure access to basic rights."

    Bolton's remarks, made as a response to an article about a speech by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who accused Venezuela's military of engaging in "state-sanctioned violence" and numerous human rights violations, echoed claims made previously by Venezuela's opposition leaders as they sought support from the military in plots to overthrow the government.

    The Trump official's appeal didn't go over well online, with commenters firing off tweets asking why the US feels the need to intervene everywhere around the world, and accusing Bolton of ignoring problems at home.

    Others turned Bolton's words around on him, suggesting that the US armed forces should be asked to do what the official is demanding of the Venezuelan armed forces.

    Bolton, a key proponent of efforts to topple the Venezuelan government in the Trump administration, has repeatedly attacked the Venezuelan government and Maduro personally in speeches and on Twitter, blaming the country's authorities  for the crisis and accusing 'foreign actors' including Russia, China and Iran of shoring up the current government. An architect of the 2003 War in Iraq, Bolton has been pushing a hard line on Venezuela, Iran and North Korea since becoming national security adviser in 2018, and has repeatedly called for 'military options' during the Venezuela crisis.

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself "interim president" earlier this year, formally requested US military support in May after failing to attract key support from Venezuela's armed forces in an April 30 coup attempt, with that plot collapsing after the Venezuelan officers and troops expected to take part stayed in their Caracas barracks and burned written appeals issued by Guaido and his supporters in the streets. The failure of the coup prompted President Maduro to issue a statement praising the military for showing "total loyalty" to the government and calling on "maximum popular mobilization."

    Guaido proclaimed himself interim president on January 23, just weeks after President Maduro was sworn in for a second term following elections the previous May. The US and its Latin American and European allies immediately recognised Guaido and tightened sanctions against Caracas. Russia, China, and several dozen other nations have voiced support for Maduro, or urged the US and its allies not to meddle in Venezuela's affairs.


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