CARACAS, Venezuela — The Venezuelan opposition is in talks with sympathetic military and civilian officials in a bid to force out President Nicolás Maduro, self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido said in an interview Sunday with The Washington Post.

Backed by the United States and a host of Latin American countries, Guaido also said the opposition will test the socialist government by bringing in food aid to ease a crippling humanitarian crisis.

Guaido and his opposition are locked in a high-stakes play to drive Maduro from power. In Caracas, Maduro’s top brass and defense minister have sworn their allegiance to him.

The new head of Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly – a body stripped of its power by Maduro in 2017 but still recognized internationally – Guaido has argued that Maduro must leave his post. Maduro was elected to a second six-year term last year, but the vote was widely derided as fraudulent. Virtually unknown outside of Venezuela before this month, the 35-year-old industrial engineer proclaimed himself interim president last week.

Guaido told The Post that talks with the military were proceeding behind the scenes. He also hailed a move on Saturday by Maduro’s former military attache in Washington to switch allegiance to Guaido.

“We have been in talks with government officials, civilian and military men,” Guaido said.

As Guaido seeks to establish a transition government, he said he was in the process of naming “foreign representatives.” Guaido said that ahead of his proclamation as president, he had met or spoken with several U.S. senators, including Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The history of U.S. military involvement in Latin America has raised questions about whether the White House would direct a military intervention to oust Maduro. President Trump has said “all options” are on the table, while defense officials have sought to tamp down speculation that the Pentagon become involved.

Administration officials, however, have openly called for Maduro’s departure. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has additionally called on the Venezuelan military to stand on the side of “democracy.”


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