John Otis

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Juan Guaidó's war room is a kind of no man's land.

The opposition leader, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela's rightful head of state, works out of a mostly vacant office in a Caracas high-rise with a couple of sofas, broken swivel chairs and carpet that could use a cleaning.

Guaidó has spent the past five months moving among safe houses and borrowed office space to keep government security agents, who have arrested dozens of opposition leaders, off balance. No one bothers to fix things up because his team may be moving on soon.

In the northeast corner of Colombia, a few miles from the Venezuelan border, rows of khaki-colored tents rise from the desert sand. Filled with Venezuelans escaping economic disaster back home, the tents make up Colombia's first refugee camp near the border.

The tunnel leading to Colombia's most famous church feels more like a byway into the bowels of the earth. It's dark and dank, with a faint smell of sulfur in the air. But after a few hundred yards, the shaft gradually widens to reveal Roman Catholic icons, like the Stations of the Cross and Archangel Gabriel.

And they're all carved out of salt.

After eight years in Venezuela's National Guard, Lt. Juan Carlos Mora fled to Colombia last month, denounced President Nicolás Maduro and declared his support for Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader now recognized by the U.S. and about 50 other countries as the legitimate head of state.

Guaidó "is president and military commander," Mora said in an interview in Cúcuta, a Colombian city near the border with Venezuela. "He is now my boss."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Nicolas Maduro is still holding on to power in Venezuela, mostly because the military there continues to support him. U.S. officials are urging troops to join the opposition. Few have done so. Here's reporter John Otis.

Pages