Venezuela Independence Day marked by rival rallies, UN rebuke
CARACAS, July 6: Venezuela's Independence Day was marked by rival rallies Friday, led by opposition leader Juan Guaido and President Nicholas Maduro, who waged a war of words even as the UN warned of eroded rule of law in the country.
Guaido, who considers himself Venezuela's legitimate acting leader, implored supporters in the streets of Caracas not to give up hope: "Don't leave! We're going to get there! Have no doubt, we'll succeed."
The crowd that gathered to hear the center-right leader, who in January declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro's authority, was markedly smaller than those at the beginning of the year.
The country was observing the July 5 holiday celebrating its 1811 Declaration of Independence.
Maduro, meanwhile, led a military parade down the Paseo de los Proceres, a boulevard honoring the country's founders, and received a public display of support from the military's top brass.
"Count on the armed forces... we are not afraid to face the enemies of the country," General Remigio Ceballos, commander of operational strategy, assured the president.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet meanwhile presented a damning report on Venezuela which pointed to attacks on political opponents and activists, including torture and thousands of killings by security forces in the country. -AFP