Venezuela 'coup' grew from secret talks in US: Report

The political crisis which came to a head in Venezuela this week followed "weeks of secret diplomacy," including a visit last month to the United States, Colombia and Brazil by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Guaido declared himself the interim president earlier this week and won immediate recognition from the US, in a move denounced by President Nicolas Maduro and a number of countries as a coup.

During a televised speech in Caracas on Friday, Maduro accused the self-declared president of working on behalf of the United States, calling him "an agent of the 'gringos' in Venezuela."

"They trained him as an agent and they put him in politics. He is an agent of the government of the United States, he knows and will receive and will fulfill orders from them," said Maduro.

According to the Associated Press, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil in mid-December to brief officials on his plans to provoke unrest to coincide with Maduro’s swearing-in for a second term on January 1.

Playing a key role behind the scenes was Canada, whose Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaido the night before the swearing-in ceremony to offer support should he confront Maduro, AP reported.

At least 20 people have lost their lives in the unrest, but the planned "coup" hit the wall after the army rallied behind Maduro and countries like Russia, China, Turkey and Iran denounced outside interference.

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