CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) —
A Venezuelan air force general defected from the administration of President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday and called on his compatriots to participate in protests against the socialist leader's rule.
Gen. Francisco Yanez is the first high ranking officer to leave Maduro's government since Jan. 23, when National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself the country's legitimate leader.
In a YouTube video, Yanez said: "The transition to democracy is imminent." He described Maduro as a dictator and referred to Guaido as his president, but refused to say whether he is still in Venezuela or has left the country.
In a brief phone conversation with The Associated Press, the officer confirmed, from a Colombian number, the veracity of his declaration and said he would not give further statements until given authorization by "the commander-in-chief of the legal armed force which is President Juan Guaido."
In the video, Yanez claimed that "90 percent" of the country's armed forces are against Maduro.