February 21, 2019 / 12:04 AM / 9 months ago

Venezuela's deputy U.N. military attache backs Guaido

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Venezuela’s deputy U.N. military attache, Colonel Pedro Chirinos, said in a video on social media that he recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president, increasing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, highlighted Chirinos’ announcement in a note posted on Twitter on Wednesday but misidentified him as the military attache to the United Nations.

“Venezuela’s military attache to the United Nations, Colonel Pedro Chirinos, has announced his official recognition of Juan Guaido as Interim President of Venezuela,” Bolton said in his note.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he was not aware of any notifications from the Venezuelan U.N. mission on changes to its delegation.

In a video shared by Bolton on Twitter, Chirinos identified himself and called Maduro’s government “illegally constituted,” while dressed in a military uniform and standing in front of the flags of Venezuela and the United Nations.

“I recognize, and offer my support and obedience, to the transition government led by the president, Juan Guaido,” Chirinos said.

The United States and scores of other countries have openly backed Guaido, who last month invoked constitutional provisions to assume the interim presidency after declaring Maduro’s re-election last year illegitimate.

Maduro retains the support of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the security services. He says Guaido is leading a U.S.-directed coup against him.

Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney

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