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Soldiers and protestors loyal to the opposition take cover near Carlota air base. Photo: Rafael Hernandez/picture alliance via Getty Images

Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó has taken to the streets alongside newly freed opposition politician Leopoldo López to call on the military to rise up and topple President Nicolás Maduro, a bold step that comes three months into a fierce power struggle.

The backdrop: Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s interim president in January and was swiftly recognized by the U.S. and a string of other countries, but Maduro has maintained his hold on power. The Trump administration and senior members of Congress have backed today’s high-risk move, while senior members of the Venezuelan regime have denounced what they’ve described as a futile "coup attempt."

López, one of Venezuela’s best-known politicians, was detained in 2014 for organizing anti-Maduro protests and had been under house arrest. He claimed to have been freed "by members of the security forces responding to an order by Guaidó," per the AP.

  • Venezuela’s foreign minister has since said the U.S. likely paid a guard to free López.
The scene in Caracas
  • “As [López] spoke on a highway overpass, troops loyal to Maduro sporadically fired tear gas from inside the adjacent Carlota air base as the crowd of a few hundred civilians, some of them brandishing Venezuelan flags, scurried for cover,” the AP reports.
  • "The crowd swelled to a few thousand as people sensed what could be their strongest opportunity yet to overthrow the government after months of turmoil that has seen Maduro withstand an onslaught of protests and international pressure with the support of his top military command and allies such as Russia and Cuba."
  • "The dramatic events playing out in the opposition’s stronghold in wealthier eastern Caracas appeared not to have triggered a broader military revolt."

The latest: An armored military vehicle rammed into pro-Guaidó protesters in Caracas. Meanwhile protesters broke through a fence and into the military base where this morning's uprising took place, per Bloomberg. News coverage shows billows of smoke coming from the base.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The big picture: As the world has waited for a decisive moment in the Maduro-Guaidó showdown, the suffering of the Venezuelan people has only intensified. The U.S. has ratcheted up sanctions, arguing that Venezuela’s economic crisis will never end until Maduro leaves power. But it’s not the only power with a stake in the outcome — Russia has sent troops in support of Maduro, and China has also defended the regime.

Go deeper

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COVID-19 rapid at-home test kits. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The website where Americans can request free, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests from the government launched Tuesday and is now accepting orders.

Driving the news: The website went live in its beta phase and is operating at a limited capacity a day before its official launch. Every home in the U.S. is eligible for up to four COVID tests, according to the website.

AT&T, Verizon extend 5G delay over airline panic

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

AT&T and Verizon said Tuesday they would delay lighting up its 5G signals near a limited number of airports after renewed opposition from the aviation industry over concerns about signal interference.

Why it matters: The CEOs of leading airlines warned of catastrophic disruption to flights if AT&T and Verizon deployed 5G as planned this week.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Ukraine crisis: Blinken to visit Kyiv, then meet Russian foreign minister

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, following a trip to Kyiv to reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of a possible Russian invasion, according to a senior U.S. official.

Why it matters: The meeting with Lavrov suggests a diplomatic resolution to the crisis may still be on the table, despite the collapse of security talks between Russia and the West last week.