Defense chief backs Maduro in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The chief of Venezuela’s military has reaffirmed his support for President Nicolas Maduro, saying the armed forces will never accept a leader imposed on their country.

The televised statement by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez on Thursday is part of a show of military support for Maduro in the face of faltering international recognition of his government.

Opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido has declared himself Venezuela’s interim president, promising to restore democracy to Venezuela.

Padrino Lopez said dark interests are working outside Venezuela’s constitution, emboldening the opposition’s rise.

He says his soldiers would be unworthy of their uniform if they fail to defend the constitution.

The United States, Canada and some Latin American and European countries have recognized Guaido’s claim that the constitution gives him the authority to assume power.