Brazil backs Venezuela uprising, but says it won't intervene militarily

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s right-wing government threw its support behind Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s push to oust President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday, and called on other nations to do the same.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists after visiting Yasmin Alves at the Estrutural slum, in Brasilia, Brazil April 27, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army officer, 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 an image of an armored car of Venezuela’s National Guard apparently running over protesters.

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 Maduro.

Guaido called on Tuesday for the military to help him oust Maduro and asked Venezuelans to take to the streets on a day he vowed would be the last for Maduro’s stay in power.

However, by the evening Maduro was still in charge, and there was little sign of the military leadership abandoning him.

Guaido is recognized as interim head of state by Brazil, the United States and dozens of other Western nations, but his backers say they want to see a peaceful transition.

Presidential spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros told reporters Brazil had completely ruled out intervening militarily in Venezuela and was not planning to allow any other country to use its territory for any potential intervention in its neighbor.

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

“Brazil supports the democratic transition process and hopes the Venezuelan military will be part of that,” Araujo said.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, Eduardo Simoes and Tatiana Bautzer in Sao Paulo; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O’Brien