Bolsonaro backs Venezuela uprising, says country ‘enslaved by dictator’

BRASILIA, April 30 (Reuters) – Brazil’s right-wing government threw its support behind Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s push to oust the “Maduro dictatorship” with street demonstrations on Tuesday, and called on other nations to do the same.

President Jair Bolsonaro wrote on his official Twitter account that the people of Venezuela are “enslaved by a dictator” and that he supports “freedom for our sister nation to finally become a true democracy.”

His security adviser, retired general Augusto Heleno, said he was shocked by images of armored cars of Venezuela’s National Guard apparently running over protesters.

Government vehicle runs over protesters in Caracas

A Venezuelan National Guard vehicle ran over protesters who were throwing stones and hitting vehicles with sticks outside a military base in Caracas on Tuesday, after opposition leader Juan Guaido called on members of the military to rise up. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

But he said the situation was not clear, Guaido’s support among the military appeared to be “weak” and it was uncertain whether military officers were abandoning leftist President Nicholas Maduro.

Guaido, who is recognized by Brazil, the United States and dozens of other Western nations as the country’s interim leader, called anew for his countrymen to take to the streets on a day he vowed would be the last for Maduro’s stay in power.

Brazilian presidential spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros read out a statement expressing support for the “Venezuelan people fighting for democracy” and called on other nations to support Guaido’s effort to end the “Maduro dictatorship.”

Earlier, Brazil’s foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said his country supported a democratic transition in Venezuela. He said Brazil hopes its neighbor’s military will abandon Maduro. “Brazil supports the democratic transition process and hopes the Venezuelan military will be part of that,” Araujo said.

He added that it was “positive” to see movement of some Venezuelan military toward recognizing Guaido as the legitimate president of their country.

While Brazil has recognized Guaido as the interim leader of Venezuela, it has never considered military intervention there to overthrow Maduro’s socialist government, Heleno said.