Demonstrators protest in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday, after National Assembly leader Juan Guaido called for action against President Nicolas Maduro. Photo by Rayner Pena/EPA-EFE
May 2 (UPI) -- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for workers to strike in large numbers Thursday in an effort to force President Nicolas Maduro from power.
Protests have turned violent across Venezuela with four people confirmed dead and more than 200 wounded in two days. The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict posted on Twitter that 57 people have been killed so far in 2019. It went on to say that 2 of the most recent deaths were teenagers.
Foro Penal, a Venezuelan prisoner rights group, said another 205 people have been arrested this week, including 15 minors.
Guaido, president of the country's National Assembly, encouraged a third day of protests against the government despite a declaration of victory from Maduro. He said work stoppages by public employees would lead to a general strike and force the president to give up power.
Maduro appeared on state television Wednesday night, saying his military forces had successfully tamped down an attempted coup.
"Something good came from evil, which is loyalty, in full combat," Maduro said. "The time has come to defend the right to peace."
Guaido, though, told Deutsch Welle the "military no longer backs Maduro." He also acknowledged he didn't have support from enough military defectors to declare victory, either.
"We have to insist that all the armed forces [show up] together. We are not asking for a confrontation. We are not asking for a confrontation among brothers, it's the opposite. We just want them to be on the side of the people," Guaido said Wednesday.
Maduro has called for talks this weekend at "all levels of government," but Guaido encouraged daily protests until there is a peaceful transition of power. Earlier this year, the opposition leader declared himself interim president, and multiple countries, including the United States, recognize him as Venezuela's leader.
Maduro accused the United States of being involved in a coup, and on Wednesday, Russian officials complained of Washington's encouragement of the attempt.
"We have been facing various forms of coup d'etat, due to the obsessive effort of the Venezuelan right, the Colombian oligarchy and the U.S. empire," Maduro said in a televised address.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying Washington's involvement in Venezuela's internal affairs was a violation of international law, The Washington Post reported. Pompeo said Wednesday U.S. military intervention in the South American nation is "possible."
U.S. President Donald Trump blames Cuba for propping up Maduro's regime and has threatened a complete embargo and more sanctions if Havana's military doesn't "immediately stop operations in Venezuela."