Venezuela Coup: Marco Rubio Urges Revolution as Juan Guaidó Declares Start of 'Final Phase'

Juan Guaidó, the self-declared Interim president of Venezuela, has launched what he has described as the "final phase" of his plan to oust President Nicolás Maduro from power, after months of grappling with the authoritarian leader for power.

Guaidó released a video early Tuesday morning filmed near an air force base in Caracas surrounded by uniformed men, Reuters reported.

In the video, which was posted to his Twitter account, Guaidó said today marked the "final phase" in his months-long effort to end what he called Maduro's "usurpation." Guaidó and his supporters claimed that Maduro's victory in the 2018 presidential election was invalid because of voter suppression, opposition boycotts and electoral irregularities.

"The national armed forces have taken the correct decision, and they count on the support of the Venezuelan people," Guaidó said, noting he was at the La Carlota air base just to the east of the capital.

He stood alongside opposition politician Leopoldo López, who was believed to be under house arrest. López played a key role in Guaidó's rise to power, The Guardian explained, ensuring he would lead the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

López tweeted, "I've been freed by soldiers following the constitution and President Guaidó. I'm at the [La Carlota] base. Let's all mobilize. It's time to win Freedom. [Strength] and Faith."

Venezuela's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said authorities were "currently tackling and putting down a small group of traitorous military personnel." He said Guaidó and his supporters "are engaged in a coup d'état against the constitution and the peace of the republic.

"This effort is being backed by the murderous, coup-plotting extreme right, which announced its violent plans months ago," he added. "We call on the people to remain on maximum alert so that, together with the glorious national Bolivarian armed forces, we can defeat the attempted coup and preserve the peace. We will prevail."

The Associated Press reported that tear gas was fired at a highway overpass near the air base where Guaidó and his supporters had stood. The agency said the tear gas appeared to have come from inside the air base.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has been one of Guaidó's most vocal foreign supporters and a key influence on the White House's Venezuela policy, tweeted his support of the action. "This is the moment for those military officers in Venezuela to fulfill their constitutional oath & defend the legitimate interim President [Guaidó] in this effort to restore democracy," Rubio wrote.

"You can write history in the hours & days ahead. After years of suffering freedom is waiting for people of Venezuela. Do not let them take this opportunity from you. Now is the moment to take to the streets in support of your legitimate constitutional government. Do not allow this moment to slip away. It may not come again."

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, wrote: "Today marks a historic day for the return of democracy and freedom to Venezuela—which the European parliament has always supported. The freeing of Leopold López by soldiers obeying the constitution is great news. Long live a free Venezuela!"

Venezuela coup juan Guaidó
This file photo shows Juan Guaidó at an event at Brión de Chacaito Square on April 27, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images