US lawmaker accuses Venezuela of harboring Russian nukes

As Maduro fights off an uprising led by opposition leader Guaidó, an American congressman claimed Russia “already” put nuclear weapons in Venezuela.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó called Tuesday night for nationwide May Day demonstrations on Wednesday against Nicolas Maduro, who has served as president since 2013 but is currently fending of what has been deemed by some an attempted “coup.”

Guaidó is recognized by the United States and 53 other governments, including Israel, as Venezuela’s acting president according to his country’s constitution, based on accusations that elections held three months ago were illegitimate and that Maduro’s purported victory is ultimately meaningless.

There have been many protests in Venezuela since the elections, and on Tuesday morning, Guaidó appeared with a group of soldiers in Caracas and announced an uprising to once and for all get rid of the dictatorial leader.

No troops were seen on the side of the protestors who answered his call, however, soldiers could be seen shooting at them. In addition, army vehicles were briefly pictured on a CNN report plowing into unarmed demonstrators in the streets before authorities abruptly pulled the plug on the international news station.

Maduro is being supported publicly by socialist, communist, and formerly communist allies such as Russia, China and Cuba, as well as Iran. Russia confirmed recently that some of its military personnel are in Venezuela, although their active involvement in the country’s unrest has not been documented.

The presence of Russian forces has been noted by the United States, and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla), speaking on Tuesday on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show, compared the situation to the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s, during which the U.S. narrowly escaped war with the Soviet Union based on missiles the Soviets placed in communist ally Cuba’s jurisdiction.

According to Diaz-Balart, Maduro’s survival as president could be “an open door for the Russians and for the Chinese and for others to increase their activity against our national security interest right here in our hemisphere.”

When Carlson asked Diaz-Balart to clarify whether he thought Russia intended to place nuclear weapons in Venezuela, he responded “they’re already there.”

Diaz-Balart offered no proof for his statement.

‘Operation Freedom’

On Tuesday evening, Maduro proclaimed on television that the that the military was with him, and that the revolt had been put down, with its leaders arrested. However, Guaidó countered with a video post saying that “Operation Freedom” would continue, adding that Maduro no longer had the “support nor the respect of the armed forces.”

In a move that could be seen as supporting the opposition leader but without mentioning names, the head of the country’s secret police wrote an open letter at roughly the same time, saying “the time has come to seek new ways of doing politics” to try to “rebuild the country.”

Another sign that Maduro’s hold on the country may be waning arrived when U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told the press on Tuesday that three other central Venezuelan figures had privately told the Trump administration that they were ready for change.

The defense minister, the chief judge of the Supreme Court and the commander of Maduro’s presidential guard “all agreed that Maduro had to go,” he said. However, the defense minster joined Maduro on television and condemned the uprising as terrorism, claiming the “coup attempt” would fail.