US national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that the US is hoping for a peaceful transfer of power in Venezuela, adding it would be a big mistake for President Nicolas Maduro to use force against civilians.
Speaking outside the White House, Bolton singled out three senior aides to Maduro who he said must make good on commitments they made to the opposition for a peaceful transition.
Bolton named Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, Supreme Court chief judge Maikel Moreno and presidential guard commander Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala as having told the opposition that Maduro needed to give up power to Guaido.
Guaido called for a military uprising to oust Maduro from power earlier that day, which led to violent clashes between authorities and opposition supporters.
But Bolton gave no evidence that these senior aides had said they would turn against the Chavista president. His evidence rested on conversations the Trump administration has had with the opposition.
All agreed that Maduro had to go," Bolton said. "They need to be able to act this afternoon and this evening to be able to bring other military forces to the side of the interim president."
The national security adviser also stressed the US expected for Russia not to get involved in Venezuela's political turmoil.
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused Washington of helping Guaido orchestrate the uprising.
"It is not a coup attempt from the military. This is directly planned in Washington, in the Pentagon and Department of State, and by Bolton," Arreaza told Reuters in a phone interview from Caracas.
"They are leading this coup and giving orders to this man (Juan) Guaido," he said.