Local Venezuelans keeping close eye on volatile situation in their homeland

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Local Venezuelans are keeping a close eye on the volatile situation in their homeland, as opposition leaders try to oust the embattled president.

At a Venezuelan restaurant in Pasadena, many are thinking about their families in Venezuela as people take to the streets there, rising up against President Nicolas Maduro.

Horrifying images show a government armored vehicle plowing through and running over demonstrators.

"This is madness, like what happened today, never happened before," said Los Angeles resident Laura Pacheco. "We still have some hope about the change, about the new president, but we're still pretty nervous about that."

Interim President Juan Guaido is calling for a military uprising and what he calls the final phase of a mission to oust Maduro.

"We want to send a clear message also to the dictator Nicolas Maduro: Your time is over. Venezuela is ready for a change," said Carlos Vecchio, Venezuelan Opposition's envoy to the United States.

Maduro's re-election last year was deemed illegitimate. Guaido was recognized by the U.S. and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela's leader.

The unrest is escalating, a response to the humanitarian and economic crisis blamed on Maduro.

Local resident Yesika Baker says she was able to talk with her family in Caracas earlier in the day.

"They're afraid. Tonight, there's no power, they turned the power off, you can't communicate. It's very, very sad," she said.

In a national television address, Maduro said the opposition had attempted to impose an "illegitimate government" and vowed to identify, arrest and try people who took part in street protests.

The White House is standing by Guaido, calling for a peaceful transition of power.
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