U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said calls for new elections by embattled Venezuelan lead Nicolas Maduro should not be treated seriously.
“No one is falling for this,” the Florida Republican tweeted Saturday.
“Even before protests his plan all along was to call early and fake elections under his rigged electoral system to get rid of opposition in National Assembly.”
Maduro on Saturday proposed holding early parliamentary elections, a move widely viewed as an attempt to shore up power.
“I agree that it is the people who decide and re-legitimize the Venezuelan legislature,” Maduro wrote in Spanish on social media.
The move by the troubled Venezuelan leader comes after weeks of domestic and international tumult. Protests broke out in January challenging the legitimacy of his presidency.
Shortly afterward, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his administration now recognizes opposition head Juan Guaido as the nation’s leader, a move urged by Rubio and other lawmakers.
Rubio earned wide credit for convincing Trump of that gesture but said the president ultimately made that decision. Last week, he stressed the people of Venezuela led opposition to Maduro, and the world followed suit.
He stressed that again on social media Saturday, publicizing major crowds at anti-Maduro protests.
“The next time someone says this is a U.S.-led effort to bring “regime change” in Venezuela send them this video,” he wrote.
“The U.S. didn’t organize this movement. This is led by the Venezuelan people. They deserve all the credit and our support.”
Rubio also noted some of the rallies featured protesters waving American flags and displaying replicas of the Statue of Liberty painted in colors of the Venezuelan flag.
“America is a powerful symbol of freedom and liberty for people all over the world,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, some rallies staged by Maduro supporters failed to amass any crowds.
But Maduro shared pictures of one event filled with militia supporters wearing brown shirts and saluting him.
“I ordered to incorporate the militiamen and milicianas as active officers and soldiers,” Maduro wrote in Spanish. “If we want peace, prepare to defend it!”
Maduro’s call for new elections came hours after one of the nation’s top military leaders defected to Guaido.
Rubio predicted Maduro, if he holds parliamentary elections, will have new lawmakers change Venezuela’s government in an effort to shore up power.
“This fake legislature would change (Venezuela’s) constitution to a Cuban style one party rule system,” Rubio wrote.