The Latest: Guaido’s father says son is legitimate leader

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

5:40 a.m.

The father of an opposition leader claiming Venezuela’s interim presidency is calling for the military to drop their allegiance to Nicolas Maduro.

Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-led National Assembly, says he has constitutional legitimacy to guide Venezuela to a new presidential election.

His father, Wilmer Guaido, has lived in Spain for the past 16 years. Speaking on Antena 3 private television on Friday, he says that Venezuela’s armed forces should be loyal to the country, but not to a specific leader.

“(Simon) Bolivar used to curse against soldiers who give their back to the people,” Guaido said, referring to Venezuela’s independence hero. “I think the military should choose the right side of history.”

The father, who works as a taxi driver in the island of Tenerife, says he is proud because his son has taken a step forward to take power “from a usurper.”

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4 a.m.

Indian officials say they are closely following the political crisis in Venezuela.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim to the presidency has been recognized by the U.S. and other countries, a step that put them at odds with Russia, China and others who see the U.S. as interfering.

India Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Friday it was up to Venezuelans “to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and discussion without resorting to violence.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defiantly called home all Venezuelan diplomats from the U.S. and closed its embassy Thursday.

Guaido’s whereabouts have been a mystery since he was symbolically sworn in Wednesday.

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12:15 a.m.

Backed by Venezuela’s military, President Nicolas Maduro went on the offensive against an opposition leader who declared himself interim president and his U.S. supporters, setting up a struggle for power in the crisis-plagued South American nation.

A defiant Maduro called home all Venezuelan diplomats from the U.S. and closed its embassy Thursday, a day after ordering all U.S. diplomats out of Venezuela by the weekend because President Donald Trump had supported the presidential claim of Juan Guaido. Washington has refused to comply, but ordered its non-essential staff to leave the tumultuous country.

The Trump administration says Maduro’s order isn’t legal because the U.S. no longer recognizes him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Meanwhile, all eyes were on Guaido whose whereabouts have been a mystery since he was symbolically sworn in Wednesday.

A U.S flag flies outside the U.S. embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Venezuelans headed into uncharted political waters Thursday, with the young leader of a newly united and combative opposition claiming to hold the presidency and socialist President Nicolas Maduro digging in for a fight with the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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