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He announced early elections could take place while speaking at a rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez's first inauguration as president.

General Francisco Yanez, high command of Venezuela's air force, said he now recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim head-of-state, according to media reports Saturday. "Wives are sacred. So don't cross that red line".

"This has to do with risk assessment due to Venezuela's current state, not only because of political consequences but due to the impact of sanctions", said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Ecoanalitica, a consulting firm in Caracas.

Following Guaido's declaration, President Nicolas Maduro urged people to have "nerves of steel" and to defend the country.

This month's protests have received overwhelming support from overseas, with the U.S., Canada and many others already recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Bolivia and Mexico continue to recognize Maduro.

Guaido's coup received immediate support from the U.S. and its allies in Latin America and Europe while Russia, Mexico, China and other countries urged not to interfere into the domestic situation in the country. The person didn't know where the gold was supposed to go or the exact nature of the planned transaction, but the fate of the bars had become a cause of great concern both in Venezuela and overseas. Valued at about $850 million, they are an important source of wealth in a country that has plunged into extreme poverty under Maduro's leadership.

The video was tweeted out among Venezuelan journalists and spread from there.

Hours before the rival ralies were set to start, a senior officer of the military's high command rejected the authority of Nicolas Maduro and endorsed his opposition rival.

The United States is also monitoring trade between its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey and Venezuela and will take action if it judges any sanctions have been violated, a senior USA official said in Istanbul. The blocking of the shipment comes just a week after the Bank of England denied Maduro officials' request to withdraw $1.2 billion of gold stored there. Joshua Goodman of the Associated Press joins Hari Sreenivasan.

On Saturday morning, streams of marchers walked from middle-class and poor neighborhoods to gather at points across the capital of Caracas for a demonstration to demand Maduro's resignation and a transitional government that will hold new elections in the South American country.

Venezuela is suffering from hyperinflation, produce shortages and a mass migration of citizens to neighboring Latin American countries - a situation likely to be worsened in the short term by the new sanctions.

A day earlier, thousands led by Guaido protested in various cities, banging pots, blowing whistles and horns, and carrying banners that read: "Armed forces, regain your dignity" and "Maduro usurper".

The government called for a mass rally Thursday to denounce USA sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company that could starve Maduro's government of billions in export revenue but turnout was no more than a few hundred people.

Guaido reappeared Thursday night to address dozens of neighbors and thank them for not letting state security forces intimidate the community.


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